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Washington Is All Over the New App Sidewire: Twitter for Politics

Sidewire works as a direct line to the world of politics.

Justin Sullivan / Getty

Everyone’s got an opinion, and in the world of politics, people with an informed opinion can be relatively hard to come by. Sidewire is trying to find those people.

Sidewire, which officially launched its app Thursday night at an event in Iowa, works a lot like a verified-only version of Twitter. The company has recruited more than 100 political influencers — analysts, journalists, campaign managers and even politicians themselves — to use the app to discuss important political topics of the day. The result is a somewhat curated, yet still public collection of political conversations among people who actually know what they’re talking about (even if you disagree with their stance).


What may be most impressive about Sidewire is the small user base it launched with, a group that’s giving the app some buzz within political circles. John McCain is on the app. So are spokespeople for Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton, as well as journalists from nearly every major media organization that covers U.S. politics.

“Campaigns are looking for every avenue to be influential with a message,” explained Sidewire co-founder Tucker Bounds. “It makes natural sense for different campaigns to use Sidewire to get straight to the influencer community.”

No one knows the importance of this better than Bounds, who was the spokesperson for McCain during his 2008 presidential run and former head of corporate comms at Facebook. Bounds started Sidewire over a year ago with co-founder Andy Bromberg, and the duo have raised nearly $5 million in venture funding in a round led by Spark Capital to make good on their goal to separate the signal from the noise.

That won’t be easy, of course, despite its high-caliber user base. Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat all offer significantly larger audiences, not to mention the fact that the hoi polloi can contribute to the conversation. But Bounds will tell you that Sidewire is not a social network. Instead, it’s for a niche audience — those who want to follow important political happenings (there’s a reason they’re launched in Iowa) and influencers looking to engage with other influencers.

“This is a new type of platform,” Bounds said. “A place where you can have direct engagement with influencers and journalists or someone who works in the news. Or, if you are [one of those people], you can have engagement with campaign candidates.”

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