Harper Reed

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Harper Reed
BornMarch 21, 1978 (1978-03-21) (age 45) [1]
Greeley, Colorado, United States
EducationCornell College[2]

Harper Reed (born March 21, 1978) is an American entrepreneur and former Head of Commerce at Braintree,[3] a subsidiary of PayPal.[2] In 2011, he served as Chief Technology Officer for Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.[1] According to The Guardian, Reed's "background in crowd-sourcing and cloud-computing ... gives a significant clue to what the Obama team hoped to achieve in 2012".[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Reed was born in Greeley, Colorado, where he was raised in a home without a television but with an Apple IIC. Reed graduated from Cornell College in 2001[5] with degrees in philosophy and computer science.[6] After graduating, Reed was a professional juggler and was part of a juggling protest group called The Jugglers Against Homophobia.[7] Reed is improperly credited in Metallica’s Death Magnetic album with a photo credit.[8] Reed’s work was featured in an Austrian documentary by Werner Boote titled Alles unter Kontrolle.[9] Reed is an avid reader [10] and currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Hiromi Nakazawa.

Beyond his tech endeavors, Reed is well known for his fashion contributions.[11][12]


Reed's first job out of college was as an engineer for World Book Publishing.[13]


From 2005 to 2009, Reed was the CTO of clothing company Threadless, where he helped lead it through a period of intense growth,[14] riding the crowdsourcing trend.

2012 American Presidential Campaign[edit]

Reed served as Chief Technology Officer for Obama for America from April 2011 through the November 2012 election.[1][15][16] A central component of that work was Project Narwhal, a centralized database of electoral information.[17] Reed helped build a team of developers from tech companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, Craigslist, Quora, Orbitz and Threadless. This approach— hiring technology workers from the tech startups rather than the political realm— was novel.[18]


In 2012 Reed founded and was the CEO of Modest, a startup that built retail solutions for mobile devices.[19] Modest was funded primarily by Eric Schmidt.[20] In August 2015, Braintree purchased Modest[21] and relaunched the Modest platform as PayPal Commerce.[3]


Reed joined PayPal as a Senior Director of Software Development and as Entrepreneur in Residence in PayPal’s Next Generation Commerce group.


Reed is on a number of boards, including Keeper, a leading password manager application. He is a Trustee and board member[22][23] at Cornell College. He is a board member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School.[24] Reed is also on the advisory boards of the Royal United Services Institute[25] and the Illinois Tech Computer Science Department.[26] Reed was also a consultant and advisory to House of Cards for a number of episodes.[27] Harper also sits on the advisory boards for IIT Computer Science and the Royal United Service Institute, and is a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.[28][29]


Reed has written on a number of topics, including user experience design,[30] diversity in technology,[31] privacy,[32] and "big data".[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Harris, Melissa (2 June 2011). "Chicago technologist Harper Reed joins President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Reed, Harper. "Harper Reed Resume". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b Lunden, Ingrid. "PayPal Commerce Matches Stripe With PayPal's Own Native Shopping Toolkit For Apps". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  4. ^ Pilkington, Ed (17 February 2012). "The digital wizards behind Obama's tech-heavy re-election strategy". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  5. ^ Nguyen, Thao (1 February 2013). "Reed strives to make an impact". Cornell College EReport. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  6. ^ Murphy, Tim (1 September 2012). "Inside the Obama Campaign's Hard Drive". Mother Jones. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Inside the Obama Campaign's Hard Drive". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  8. ^ Brooks, Derek. "Do I Sue Metallica? Or Do I Sue Harper?". derek.broox.com. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  9. ^ Boote, Werner. "Everything´s Under Control". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  10. ^ Ward, Jon (27 December 2012). "Harper Reed Goes A Week Without Internet: Obama Campaign Tech Guru Shares What He Learned". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  11. ^ Reed, Harper. "Harper Reed Home Page". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  12. ^ Reed, Harper. "Harper Reed Biography". GitHub.
  13. ^ Vuong, Andy (27 January 2013). "Greeley's Harper Reed the technology mastermind behind Obama's win". The Denver Post. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Exclusive Interview: Threadless CTO Harper Reed Heads to Rackspace [What's A Nepholologist?]". SiliconANGLE. 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  15. ^ Reed, Harper. "Harper Reed AngelList Profile". Angel List.
  16. ^ Reed, Harper. "Harper Reed LinkedIn Profile". LinkedIn.
  17. ^ Issenberg, Sasha (15 February 2012). "Obama's White Whale". Slate. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  18. ^ Madrigal, Alexis (16 November 2012). "When the Nerds Go Marching In". Wired. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  19. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai. "Former Obama Campaign, Threadless CTO Eyes Mobile Commerce With New Startup Modest". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  20. ^ "Modest Launches to Evolve Mobile Commerce". Tech.Co. 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  21. ^ Mac, Ryan. "PayPal Continues Acquisition Spree, Buys E-commerce Startup Led By Former Obama Campaign CTO". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  22. ^ "Current Cornell College Trustees". www.cornellcollege.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  23. ^ "Reed, Ringer join Cornell College Board of Trustees - Cornell College". Cornell College News Center. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  24. ^ "Pardee RAND Leadership". www.pgrs.edu. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  25. ^ "Reed". RUSI. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  26. ^ "Computer Science Department Advisory Board".
  27. ^ "Harper Reed". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  28. ^ Chopovsky, Max. "Harper Reed - Moral of the Story". Moral of the Story.
  29. ^ "Harper Reed's Linkedin Profile". Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  30. ^ Reed, Harper (November 2013). "The importance of creating a great user experience". i-CIO. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  31. ^ Reed, Harper (November 2013). "Why the IT industry needs to become a more diverse place". i-CIO. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  32. ^ Reed, Harper (November 2013). "Seeing privacy and trust from an under-25's perspective". i-CIO. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  33. ^ Reed, Harper (November 2013). "The vital shift from big data to big answers". i-CIO. Retrieved 8 December 2013.

External links[edit]