Jun 12, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: White House Chief Digital Officer departs to launch tech firm

White House photo

White House Chief Digital Officer Ory Rinat is leaving the Trump administration later this month to launch a new technology company focused on influencer marketing, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Rinat was instrumental in crafting the White House’s digital strategy and policy over the past three years. He has been with the White House since 2017.

Details: People familiar with the plans say the departure is amicable and that Rinat, who previously worked with the Heritage Foundation and Atlantic Media Strategies, is leaving because he wanted to start his own company.

  • At the White House, Rinat helped build out digital assets including WhiteHouse.gov and all of the White House's social media handles.
  • They include CrisisNextDoor.gov and Coronavirus.gov websites dealing with the opioid and coronavirus public health crises, as well as PSAs around those crises.

Rinat's new company, to be based in D.C., will close a seed round of investment this month, including some venture capital investment, per a source familiar with the funding. Engineers, designers, and a creator services team to be hired within the next month.

  • It will power a technology platform for performance-based influencer and affiliate marketing.
  • The platform will be available in the public affairs, food and cooking, parenting, and financial services verticals before expanding to others.
  • It will only allow certain influencers to sign up to participate, so that it can vet those influencers as being brand-safe for advertisers.

The big picture: Currently, advertisers hire influencers to hawk products or ideas to their massive followings online, but it's hard to measure influencers' direct impacts on purchases or engagement.

  • Rather than pay influencers a lump sum of money, Rinat's platform will allow advertisers to pay out influencers based on a fixed cost-per-conversion rate.

Be smart: The public affairs sector lags when it comes to accountability and metrics-driven marketing. Rinat hopes to use his background in media and public affairs to differentiate the platform from other influencer marketing companies.

Go deeper