Meet the EHF Fellows: Andrew Hoppin


(audience applause) – Kia Ora (speaks in foreign language). The bad news is I’m the
fellow standing between you and lunch, the good
news is I’m from New York and we talk really fast,
so it will be okay. So, I love government, you
don’t hear many people from my country saying this
but I love government. When it works. I believe it’s a grand
experiment between all of us, it helps us to meet our basic needs while also balancing
those of the greater good. So I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life working to make government work better. Specifically working to
make it more transparent, more participatory and more efficient. Great, so this journey
began for me in 2003. I worked with many other
people that tried to beat George Bush in his re-election effort, and I did this because
the first plane going into the World Trade Center
woke me up in New York. And he was running for
re-election, I believe, disingenuously on the backs
of our experience in New York. Saying he’d keep us safe,
when in fact he intended to take us into an unrelated war in Iraq. So, in that failure we failed but… And I failed, there. We failed to beat him
but we built a movement and an organization that made
the first major investments in an open source software
platform which today runs http://whitehouse.gov and
it runs tens of thousands of other government
websites around the world, making them more transparent
and more participatory. I then moved onto NASA
where I, in spite of a 96% world wide brand recognition,
I found a government bureaucracy that was old and
staid and difficult to access and frankly, super
ironically, kinda boring. And I worked with many
other people to open it up in a process we call
participatory exploration, helping them to adopt social media, helping them to adopt virtual reality and make their culture more
like the Silicon Valley that was around the center
that I was working at. I then moved on to the
New York State Senate, part of our legislature in New York, where I was a CIO and working
with a team much smarter and more freshened than I,
they put up the first ever government GitHub repository in the world. We opened up all the data about how much money I was
paid, we opened up public bills to comment online before they’re voted on, adopted Creative Commons
copyright and on and on. And had a really profound
experience about how we could make a really backwater even corrupt local government institution be far more transparent and far more participatory. And then I built the company
to try to help hundreds of governments to do better
and built one of the world’s two leading open source open
data software platforms, sold that company to one of the biggest gov tech companies in the US. My work continues today
with a non-profit called Global Integrity, we work
with governments around the world, from Washington DC
to help improve governance. So, all these things are
great and I love them and they’ve put me in a fortunate position to also be an investor. And I invest in companies and
in entrepreneurs that I think can help build solutions
that will help us understand the world better, help
us understand each other and to help us work better together. One of those is Planet. Planet’s very soon going to be the first entity in the
world to be able to take a picture of every spot on
the planet every single day. Another is Blokable. Blokable is building prefabricated smart housing module infrastructure
that can reduce the time and improve the quality and reduce the cost of building public housing. Govlist is a company that’s
reducing transaction times for government procurement
for tenders in the US by more than 50%, increasing the transparency and the accountability of
that process at the same time. And finally Blockchain for
Change is a new startup in New York City delivering
public benefits to some of New York’s most
vulnerable populations and reducing the transaction
cost of that by up to 90%. So, all this is great I’m
physched about it, I’m proud of it but by many measures it’s not working when you look at trust. Donald Trump isn’t even
on this graph, okay? And basically trust in governments in the United States has been
falling for decades. So this isn’t just a US problem either. The populous backlash we’ve
been seeing throughout Europe, I believe is related
to eroding trust in our institutions and in each other. So we need help and I
believe that Aotearoa, New Zealand is uniquely positioned to be the source of some of
that help for the world. And I want to work here as an investor and as a hands on worker to
roll up my sleeves and help civic tech and gov tech entrepreneurs here to build solutions that can
actually turn that graph around. Okay, so why here? (audience laughs) Well we, hey! Whether you’re happy today or sad today we have had coalition governments here for decades that actually work. That would be unthinkable
in the United States today. Okay? We have technological depth
across a range of industries way disproportionate with
the size of our population. Okay? We have rivers that have
rights because of 800 years of Maori wisdom and great leaders today, again that would be unthinkable
in the United States today, particularly under this
current administration. We have diverse metropolises
that are thriving that rival the adversity of my
other home in New York City. We’re poised to be a model for the world. So, how can we do it? Well, I want to invest in
themes like civic tech, there are already companies like Loomio that are building solutions that help us work together better,
those need to be scaled. Companies like Point Zero
and all the VR and augmented reality talent that we
have here in this country, I believe can be used
to help create empathy between people across
distance as well as practical solutions to help, for example
first responders to have the time and knowledge
that they need in the time and place where it most matters
to respond to disasters. Companies like Boxfish which
are helping to capture data about our planet and helping to analyze it to help us understand where we live. And then finally makers and
smart infrastructure companies that make our urban
environments more resilient. So I want to invest in all
of these, and most of all I’m excited in particular
about Blockchain technologies. And I’m excited about them
because when you think of the billions of transactions
that people engage in with public institutions every single day, I believe that Blockchain
technologies have the theoretical and technological
potential to make those technologies more transparent
and more efficient. Even if you don’t trust the
institutions that you’re transacting with, even if you don’t trust other actors in that system. And if we can realize even
a small fraction of that potential making transactions work and creating accountability
in spite of lack of trust, then I think that will actually
serve to help us rebuild trust in our institutions
and in each other. So I couldn’t be more
excited, more proud to have the opportunity to be here,
to work with entrepreneurs to build these sorts of things, Kia Ora. (audience applause) (bouncy music)

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