Database We Can Believe In: Stories from the Front Lines (and Server Rooms) of Barack Obama's Online Presidential Campaign

Chuck Hagenbuch (Blue State Digital), Leigh Heyman (Executive Office of the President), Stephen Gunn (Google, Inc), Mikey Dickerson (Federal Government | United States Digital Services Team), Ian Gulliver (Google)
Location: Ballroom E
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 8 ratings)

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign created an unprecedented online grassroots movement in which supporters generated thousands of events, made millions of phone calls, raised record amounts of money, and received over a billion emails. Blue State Digital, whose PHP/MySQL-based tools powered, only had the 2004 and 2006 elections to use as guidance—before other tools like YouTube and Facebook had been used for presidential politics. Chuck Hagenbuch and Leigh Heyman of Blue State Digital will talk about their experiences leading up to Election Day, the tools that were used, and how the campaign’s online efforts exceeded all expectations.

Photo of Chuck Hagenbuch

Chuck Hagenbuch

Blue State Digital

Chuck Hagenbuch leads the software infrastructure team at Blue State Digital, building the core of the company’s tools and working with new technologies. He brings years of experience writing web applications and software libraries to the job of growing the company’s software to new uses and broader scale.

Prior to joining Blue State Digital, Chuck worked for Zend Technologies, providing professional services to many prominent companies, including Google, PayPal, and Portugal Telecom. He founded the open source Horde Project in 1998 and remains active leading its development.

Photo of Leigh Heyman

Leigh Heyman

Executive Office of the President

Leigh oversees the development and operations of, We The People, and all of the White House’s Drupal-based websites and applications. His team provides a secure, stable, and scalable technical infrastructure across the White House’s web, social media, and mobile platforms, supporting the President’s communications objectives. Leigh’s fifteen years of experience cover all aspects of system management of high-profile online engagement platforms in both the private and public sectors, including work for Blue State Digital and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Stephen Gunn

Google, Inc

Steve was the Site Reliability Engineering Lead for a large MySQL installation at Google from 2005-2008. Late in 2008, he volunteered at Obama For America helping with big-data analytics. Upon returning to Google, he’s been working with networks. Steve has more than 15 years experience as a UNIX and OpenSource generalist from Purdue University, Progeny Linux Systems, FedEx, and Google.

Photo of Mikey Dickerson

Mikey Dickerson

Federal Government | United States Digital Services Team

In 2013, Mikey Dickerson joined what became known as the “ad hoc” team, tasked with rescuing after its disastrous launch on October 1. In August 2014, President Obama established the United States Digital Service and tapped Mikey to serve as the Administrator to see if the strategy that succeeded at pulling out of the fire could be applied to other government problems.

Prior to his service in government, Mikey worked in Site Reliability Engineering at Google from 2006 to 2014. He took a brief hiatus in 2008 and 2012 to work on the presidential campaigns, and in 2012 helped write software and oversee computer systems for several programs, including the critical “get out the vote” campaign.

Ian Gulliver


Ian has worked in the computing industry for over ten years at telecom giants and Internet startups. He founded and implemented an anti-spam blackhole list using MySQL that grew to be the most-queried on the Internet. Eventually, the pull of Google brought him to California, where he now works doing administration and development around Google’s MySQL deployment.

Co-presented By:

O'Reilly Media MySQL/Sun Microsystems
  • Kickfire
  • Virident
  • Infobright, Inc
  • JasperSoft
  • Intel
  • Advanced Micro Devices
  • BIRT Exchange by Actuate
  • Calpont
  • Canonical
  • Continuent
  • Dolphin Interconnect Solutions
  • Facebook
  • HiT Software, Inc.
  • IBM
  • iDashboards
  • Oracle
  • Pentaho
  • R1Soft
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • SQLstream
  • Ticketmaster
  • Zmanda, Inc.
  • Linux Journal

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