Grassroots.com switches focus, makes McCurry CEO

WASHINGTON: Now that the main part of the election is over, what's a political Web site to do? If you're Grassroots.com, you start by appointing former White House press secretary Mike McCurry as your CEO. Then you promote your new business plan.

WASHINGTON: Now that the main part of the election is over, what's a political Web site to do? If you're Grassroots.com, you start by appointing former White House press secretary Mike McCurry as your CEO. Then you promote your new business plan.

WASHINGTON: Now that the main part of the election is over, what's a political Web site to do? If you're Grassroots.com, you start by appointing former White House press secretary Mike McCurry as your CEO. Then you promote your new business plan.

Until now, Grassroots.com functioned mostly as a political news site similar to Voter.com, Election.com and Politics.com. But now that the campaigning is over, many of these sites have hit hard times and had to make difficult decisions. Voter.com, for example, laid off 10% of its staff this month, and Politics.com has already put its domain up for sale.

In an attempt to fend off a similar fate, Grassroots.com is changing its thrust from a news portal to an application service provider (ASP).

In its new role, the Web site will sell or rent software and services, acquired through a strategic partnership with Issue Dynamics, to advocacy groups and political activists. For now, the majority of services offered are aimed at helping such organizations reach out to their constituencies using the Internet.

'This whole change was a recognition that we had better not be dependent on an election cycle,' McCurry said in interview with Business Week last week. 'This isn't about who got the big buzz on Election Day. It's about who owns the turf the day after.'

McCurry, who served as President Clinton's spokesperson during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has been associated with the site since before its launch in September of this year, originally serving on its board of advisors.

According to a source close to the former press secretary, he will not begin his full-time duties as CEO until January 1, 2001, and even then he will remain a principal at PR firm Public Strategies, where he has worked since he first left the White House in 1998.

Issue Dynamics, a public affairs firm founded in 1986, will serve as the profes-sional services arm of the partnership. For now, according to SVP Ken Deutsch, they will concentrate on marketing Grassroots Manager, software it introduced two years ago.

'It allows grassroots organizations to put their entire database online,' said Deutsch. 'They can have a Web-based interface to connect with the very people they are trying to mobilize.'



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