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Democrats have hired Raffi Krikorian, a former Uber exec, as their chief technology officer

The hire — at the Democratic National Committee — comes as the party tries to improve its tech tools and cyber defenses.

DNC Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian
Raffi Krikorian speaks at OSCON 2015 in Portland.
O’Reilly / YouTube

As Democrats begin to rebuild in the wake of their 2016 presidential election defeat, the party’s official political organ is tapping Raffi Krikorian, a former top engineer at Uber’s self-driving car program, to be its next chief technology officer.

The hire, confirmed by multiple sources on Wednesday, comes as the Democratic National Committee looks to improve its tech tools in a bid to reach more voters — while preventing another major cyber breach, the likes of which by Russian-backed hackers in 2016 helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Krikorian departed Uber in February; he had served as the senior director of engineering at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. He then briefly joined New America, a nonpartisan policy think tank, as the director of engineering focused on public-interest technology. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, nor did the DNC. And he previously spent five years as vice president of platform engineering at Twitter.

When he assumes his new role, though, Krikorian will face no shortage of endemic tech troubles to tackle — beginning with shoring up the DNC’s cyber defenses after Russian hackers targeted Democrats in 2016, stole their private emails and shared them with WikiLeaks.

Raffi Krikorian, Director of Uber ATC, speaks to members of the press during the launch of the pilot model of the Uber self-driving car at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center on September 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Uber launched a groundbreak
Raffi Krikorian
Angelo Merendino/AFP/Getty Images

The DNC’s new leader, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, has specifically said that the party needs its own in-house cyber security officer — not just to help the DNC, he told Politico in January, but to support local political officials as they also try to fight off future breaches.

Beyond that campaign-changing, narrative-shaping cyber incident, many believe the DNC has fallen behind in supporting and deploying tech tools to target voters, raise money and send those supporters to the polls on Election Day.

Even Hillary Clinton has criticized the DNC for disorganization, stressing at the Code Conference in June that it was “bankrupt” and “on the verge of insolvency” when she won the party’s presidential nomination.

“Its data was mediocre to poor,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s comments quickly drew sharp rebukes from DNC veterans. Many also charged that the party’s next challenge is corralling and harnessing the myriad tech-focused groups that have sprung out of Silicon Valley to oppose Trump.

Update, 1:14 pm ET: Hours later, Kirkorian confirmed the hire.

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