I really appreciate the opportunity to be here to talk about one of my favorite public
GovDelivery was founded back in 2000 in Minnesota. An interesting time at the end
of the .com boom when digital government often meant putting city council minutes
on a web page. We were focused on local government because I was consistently
told three things about Federal government by the VCs and others we met.
1) You can’t serve federal government unless you’re in D.C.
2) Everything is so bureaucratic that you’ll never get anything done.
3) Nobody will even get it. Federal government is where innovation goes to die.
Then the .com bust happened, and just building the company by working with cities
was not going to be enough to get us to scale.
So, in ’03, we started talking to some federal agencies.
Of course, we figured out early on that we needed to meet with Bev. It took a while
to get that opportunity. But, through a few referrals, and quite a bit of voicemail
stalking, in ’04 or ‘05, I met with Bev for the first time.
On our unusual location, she quickly told me that “only 1% of the world’s population
lives anywhere colder than Minnesota.” That was it for discussion about not being in
She had looked into the couple of other places we’d done work and spoke with me
about what metrics mattered to her. She cared about results and technology was
only as good as the results it could deliver. If I was told to expect bureaucracy, this
was exactly the opposite.
As GovDelivery had a chance to serve firstgov, later USA.gov, I found something else.
This desire to improve the metrics drove an intense desire to innovate quickly and in
the ways with the greatest impact. Bev would ask, “What more do you have for us?
What’s new? What’s coming? “ Everytime I saw her.
Bev, together with a small number of other digital leaders, pushed us to start
connecting all of our clients together so they could cross promote information and
connect with more people… an innovation now used by over 1,000 organizations
that helped us deliver more reach than we knew was possible.
In the end, Bev was not only a tough customer with high expectations, but also an
extraordinary R&D partner. She has also been a person I have turned to for advice at
key times including the two biggest decisions I’ve made professionally— one to hire
Bobbie Browning who has been an extraordinary partner to me in building our DC
office (and allowing me to see my children far more often) and the other to acquire
GovLoop which has been an incredible opportunity for me and for GovDelivery to
support innovation in government.
One more observation.
Bev’s leadership was key to establishing the building blocks for accelerating digital
government under this administration. She did this by helping nurture the early
community of Web managers, by having and sharing a clear viewpoint of what
barriers needed to be removed in ’08 to unleash the power of digital government,
and she had the courage to put that vision out there and to join with new people just
arriving on the scene in ’09 who were bent on removing barriers early in the
administration so the innovation brewing amongst the public servants, many of you
in this room, could flourish.
So, congratulations Bev. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others to do our
best to build on your legacy of commitment to delivering great results for the people
we serve. Enjoy the next great phase.