In 2004, Johnson was the lead programmer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Along with three other Howard Dean staffers (Ben Self, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, and Joe Rospars), Clay Johnson founded Blue State Digital, a company that provided technology services and online strategy for the 2008 Barack Obama Presidential Campaign. In 2006, Blue State Digital was one of Fast Company’s Fast 50. In August 2012, Clay was selected as a Presidential Innovation Fellow and is currently supporting a project called RFP-EZ. The basic goal of RFP-EZ is to make it easier for small IT services firms to bid on and win government contracts for IT services (like coding and web development).
Prior to his work with politicians, Johnson worked at AskJeeves, now Ask.com, as a technologist helping with web syndication. Along with John Petropoulos, Johnson invented the use of mouseover preview ability in search results. The patent was filed in 2001, and issued in 2006.