Tom Cochran (technologist)

Last updated
Tom Cochran
Tom Cochran IIP.jpg
Official U.S. Department of State Photo
Thomas Cochran

1977 (age 4546)
Education Vanderbilt University

Tom Cochran (born 1977) is a former Obama Administration appointee, having served both in the White House and Department of State between 2011 and 2016. He is a partner and the Chief Growth Officer at 720 Strategies, [1] [2] as well as a keynote speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at American University.


Early life and education

Cochran grew up both in Japan and Thailand due to his father's job as a foreign service officer. [3] [4] He attended a British Anglican school in Kobe, and International School Bangkok while living in Thailand. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1996. [5] Following high school, he went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating with a degree in economics. [6]


Following university, he moved to the Washington, D.C., area to work as an IT consultant for now-defunct American Management Systems. While there, he worked as the lead developer on a patented content management system and a patent-pending feedback management system. [7] [8]

He was hired by Blue State Digital as their first employee, [9] shortly after the company was founded, following the end of Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. There, he was a senior developer, helping design and build the technology to power the Democratic National Committee's digital engagement efforts for the 2006 mid-term elections. This software eventually evolved into the platform behind the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. [10] [11]

Obama administration

Cochran joined the Obama White House in 2011 as the first director of new media technologies, responsible for the technology behind He also led the engineering team charged with designing and building We the People to allow Americans to directly petition the government on any issue. [12] [13]

He left in 2012 to join Atlantic Media as their chief technology officer. [14] As CTO, he performed a study on the company's use of email, calculating that each email actually cost the company the equivalent of 95 cents in lost labor, and added up to over a million dollars. [15] The study ended up as part of Cal Newport's book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (2016). [16]

In 2014, he was appointed by President Obama to the State Department, helping "take the lessons of the Obama campaign and apply them for American foreign policy around the globe" [17] joining former White House digital colleague, Macon Phillips. [18] While at the Department, he was responsible for launching ShareAmerica, a government Upworthy clone [19] that is a "digital-first platform with socially-optimized content that was policy relevant," available in seven languages to cover an audience of 4 billion people. [20]


After leaving the Obama administration in 2016, Cochran was tapped to lead the public sector practice as chief digital strategist for Acquia, a Boston-based software-as-a-service company. [4] In October 2018, he was hired to run the digital and integrated marketing practice for Edelman in Washington, DC. [21] In July 2019, he left Edelman to rejoin 720 Strategies as partner and chief growth officer. [2] [22]

Cochran speaks internationally on his government experience pushing digital and cultural transformation. [23] [24] [25] He emphasizes a change management approach focusing on establishing credibility, embracing risk, and adopting emerging technologies. [26] [27] He's also an adjunct professor at American University [28] and a writer, having contributed to publications including Harvard Business Review, [29] Quartz, [30] [31] and Entrepreneur. [32]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Massachusetts Institute of Technology</span> Private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1861, MIT has played a significant role in the development of many areas of modern technology and science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MPEG-2</span> Video encoding standard

MPEG-2 is a standard for "the generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information". It describes a combination of lossy video compression and lossy audio data compression methods, which permit storage and transmission of movies using currently available storage media and transmission bandwidth. While MPEG-2 is not as efficient as newer standards such as H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC, backwards compatibility with existing hardware and software means it is still widely used, for example in over-the-air digital television broadcasting and in the DVD-Video standard.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Pincus</span> American Internet entrepreneur

Mark Jonathan Pincus is an American Internet entrepreneur known as the founder of Zynga, a mobile social gaming company. Pincus also founded the startups Freeloader, Inc., Tribe Networks, and Pincus served as the CEO of Zynga until July 2013, then again from 2015 to 2016.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology</span> White House advisory board

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is a council, chartered in each administration with a broad mandate to advise the president of the United States on science and technology. The current PCAST was established by Executive Order 13226 on September 30, 2001, by George W. Bush, was re-chartered by Barack Obama's April 21, 2010, Executive Order 13539, by Donald Trump's October 22, 2019, Executive Order 13895, and by Joe Biden's February 1, 2021, Executive Order 14007.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vivek Kundra</span> American government official

Vivek Kundra is a former American administrator who served as the first chief information officer of the United States from March, 2009 to August, 2011 under President Barack Obama. He is currently the chief operating officer at Sprinklr, a provider of enterprise customer experience management software based in NYC. He was previously a visiting Fellow at Harvard University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gil Kerlikowske</span> American government official (born 1949)

Richard Gil Kerlikowske is a former Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He assumed office on March 6, 2014 and retired January 20, 2017. He also served as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy between 2009 and 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aneesh Chopra</span> American executive

Aneesh Paul Chopra is an American executive who served as the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States. He was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama and was at the White House through 2012. Chopra previously served as Virginia's Secretary of Technology under Governor Tim Kaine. Chopra was a candidate in 2013 for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He is the author of Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government (2014) and co-founder and president of CareJourney. In 2015 he joined Albright Stonebridge Group as a senior advisor.

The United States Chief Technology Officer is an official in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The U.S. CTO helps the President and their team harness the power of data, innovation and technology on behalf of the American people. The CTO works closely with others both across and outside government on a broad range of work including utilizing technology to improve the government and its services, while supporting national interests through the promotion of technological innovation. Specifically, the CTO uses applied technology to help create jobs, create paths to improve government services with lower costs, higher quality and increased transparency, help upgrade agencies to use open data and expand their data science capabilities, improve quality and reduce the costs of health care and criminal justice, increase access to broadband, bring technical talent into government for policy and modern operations input, improve community innovation engagement by agencies working on local challenges, and help keep the nation secure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beth Simone Noveck</span>

Beth Simone Noveck is New Jersey's first chief innovation officer, at Northeastern University where she directs the Burnes Center for Social Change, the Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. She is also affiliated faculty with the Institute for Experiential AI. She is the author of Solving Public Problems: How to Fix our Government and Change Our World, Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Government, Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful, and co-editor of the State of Play: Law and Virtual Worlds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clay Johnson (technologist)</span>

Clay Johnson is a former Democratic technologist who played a role in prominent national campaigns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue State Digital</span> Washington, D.C.-based Internet strategy and technology firm

Blue State Digital is an adtech that specializes in online fundraising, and campaign consultancy. The company was founded by 4 former staffers of the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign. The company became notable after providing digital strategy and technology services for the 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaigns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Kalil</span>

Thomas Amadeus Kalil is an expert on technology and innovation policy, and is currently the Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures. He was previously Deputy Director for Policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, and was also the Senior Advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation for the United States National Economic Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nick Sinai</span> Adjunct faculty and a senior in the Obama Administration

Nick Sinai is a venture capitalist, adjunct faculty at Harvard Kennedy School, author, and a former senior official in the Obama Administration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ryan Panchadsaram</span>

Ryan Panchadsaram was the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States. He assumed this role under the second Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Todd Park. Panchadsaram was formerly a senior advisor to Park, starting in 2013, and is credited as an early member of the rescue team. Panchadsaram is currently a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and co-founder of the United States Digital Response in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cody Keenan</span> American speechwriter

Cody Keenan is an American political advisor and speechwriter who served as the director of speechwriting for President Barack Obama. Keenan studied political science at Northwestern University. After graduation, he worked in the U.S. senate office of Ted Kennedy, before studying for a master's in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. After graduation, he took a full-time position on Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. In 2009, he assumed the position of deputy director of speechwriting. After Jon Favreau left the White House in 2013, Keenan took over as director of speechwriting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">R. David Edelman</span>

R. David Edelman is an American policymaker and academic who currently directs the Project on Technology, the Economy, and National Security (TENS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously, he served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama on issues of the digital economy and national security. In that role, he led policy development around technology and related issues for the National Economic Council. He also served in the Office of Science & Technology Policy, and as the first Director for International Cyber Policy on the National Security Council.

David C. Edelman was Chief Marketing Officer at Aetna from 2016 to 2020, leaving after the merger with CVS. Since July, 2021, he has been a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kathy Pham</span> Vietnamese American computer scientist

Kathy Pham is a Vietnamese American computer scientist and product management executive. She has held roles in leadership, engineering, product management, and data science at Google, IBM, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Harris Healthcare, and served as a founding product and engineering member of the United States Digital Service (USDS) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States at The White House. Pham was the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Product and Engineering at the Federal Trade Commission, and the inaugural Executive Director of the National AI Advisory Committee.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Culatta</span>

Richard E. Culatta is the CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Prior to holding this position, he was the chief innovation officer for Rhode Island and the director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education (2013-2015).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Office of Digital Strategy</span> Executive Branch of the US federal government

The Office of Digital Strategy (ODS) is an Executive Branch agency that promotes the U.S. president's messaging through traditional and social media. It is part of the White House Office and is led by the assistant to the president and director of digital strategy, who reports to the White House Communications Director. The incumbent director is Christian Tom.


  1. "720 Strategies Names Tom Cochran as Chief Growth Officer". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  2. 1 2 Moore, Thomas. "Edelman's Tom Cochran boomerangs to 720 Strategies". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  3. "Foreign Service Retirements, and State Department Farewells and Departures". Diplopundit. 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  4. 1 2 "Former White House digital director to run Acquia's public-sector business -- FCW". FCW. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  5. "Phillips Exeter Academy Regional Associations" . Retrieved 2018-05-03.[ dead link ]
  6. "Check out Key FEDTalks: True Digital Transformation for 21st Century Bureaucracies with Tom Cochran at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Sep 13, 2017". Eventful. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  7. "United States Patent Application: 0040030697". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  8. "Thomas Eric Cochran Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  9. "A Blue State Digital Love Story | Blue State Digital | A Full-Service Digital Agency". 2012-07-19. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2018-04-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. "Obama 2008 Campaign | Digital Case Study | Blue State Digital". Blue State Digital. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  11. "Obama's Secret Digital Weapon". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  12. "Farewell to Obama, our first digital president". Recode. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  13. "Obama's White House webmaster says we should cut Trump's team some slack". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  14. "Why I Phished My Own Company". Harvard Business Review. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  15. "Email Is Not Free". Harvard Business Review. 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  16. Newport, Cal (2016-01-05). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN   9781455586660.
  17. "The Obama Campaign Goes Global". Time, Inc. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  18. "State Department Steals Atlantic Media CTO". AdWeek. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  19. Scola, Nancy (2014-09-30). "Meet Share America, the U.S. State Department's Upworthy clone". Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  20. "State's ShareAmerica Takes a Very Social Approach". DigitalGov. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  21. "Edelman names former Obama digital guru as D.C. general manager". Axios. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  22. "Tom Cochran Returns as Partner and Chief Growth Officer". 720 Strategies. 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  23. "Tom Cochran | adtech tokyo official website". adtech tokyo official website. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  24. "Heading to the Tech Summit next week? Here are 5 speakers not to miss?". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  25. "Keynote Tom Cochran". iMedia Brand Summit. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  26. "How I Led Change in the U.S. State Department Bureaucracy". Harvard Business Review. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  27. "'Il n'y avait ni wi-fi ni Bluetooth' : Tom Cochran, ex-digital leader de la Maison-Blanche". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  28. "Faculty Profile: Thomas Cochran". American University. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  29. "Tom Cochran author page". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  30. "The US should treat its citizens like Amazon treats its customers". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  31. "Why government websites suck so much, according to Obama's White House webmaster". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  32. "Tom Cochran author biography". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2018-04-30.