Tom Cochran (technologist)

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Tom Cochran
Tom Cochran IIP.jpg
Official U.S. Department of State Photo
Thomas Cochran

1977 (age 41–42)
ResidenceWashington, DC
EducationVanderbilt University

Tom Cochran (born 1977) is a former Obama Administration appointee, having served both in the White House and Department of State between 2011 and 2016. He is a partner and the Chief Growth Officer at 720 Strategies,[1][2] as well as a keynote speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at American University.

Early life and education[edit]

Cochran grew up both in Japan and Thailand due to his father's job as a foreign service officer.[3][4] He attended a British Anglican school in Kobe, and International School Bangkok while living in Thailand. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1996.[5] Following high school, he went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating with a degree in economics.[6]


Following university, he moved to the Washington, D.C., area to work as an IT consultant for now-defunct American Management Systems. While there, he worked as the lead developer on a patented content management system and a patent-pending feedback management system.[7][8]

He was hired by Blue State Digital as their first employee,[9] shortly after the company was founded, following the end of Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. There, he was a senior developer, helping design and build the technology to power the Democratic National Committee's digital engagement efforts for the 2006 mid-term elections. This software eventually evolved into the platform behind the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.[10][11]

Obama administration[edit]

Cochran joined the Obama White House in 2011 as the first director of new media technologies, responsible for the technology behind He also led the engineering team charged with designing and building We the People to allow Americans to directly petition the government on any issue.[12][13]

He left in 2012 to join Atlantic Media as their chief technology officer.[14] As CTO, he performed a study on the company's use of email, calculating that each email actually cost the company the equivalent of 95 cents in lost labor, and added up to over a million dollars.[15] The study ended up as part of Cal Newport's book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (2016).[16]

In 2014, he was appointed by President Obama to the State Department, helping "take the lessons of the Obama campaign and apply them for American foreign policy around the globe"[17] joining former White House digital colleague, Macon Phillips.[18] While at the Department, he was responsible for launching ShareAmerica, a government Upworthy clone[19] that is a "digital-first platform with socially-optimized content that was policy relevant," available in seven languages to cover an audience of 4 billion people.[20]


After leaving the Obama administration in 2016, Cochran was tapped to lead the public sector practice as chief digital strategist for Acquia, a Boston-based software-as-a-service company.[4] In October 2018, he was hired to run the digital and integrated marketing practice for Edelman in Washington, DC.[21] In July 2019, he left Edelman to rejoin 720 Strategies as partner and chief growth officer.[2][22]

Cochran speaks internationally on his government experience pushing digital and cultural transformation.[23][24][25] He emphasizes a change management approach focusing on establishing credibility, embracing risk, and adopting emerging technologies.[26][27] He's also an adjunct professor at American University[28] and a writer, having contributed to publications including Harvard Business Review,[29] Quartz,[30][31] and Entrepreneur.[32]


  1. ^ Strategies, 720. "720 Strategies Names Tom Cochran as Chief Growth Officer". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  2. ^ a b Moore, Thomas. "Edelman's Tom Cochran boomerangs to 720 Strategies". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  3. ^ "Foreign Service Retirements, and State Department Farewells and Departures". Diplopundit. 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  4. ^ a b "Former White House digital director to run Acquia's public-sector business -- FCW". FCW. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  5. ^ "Phillips Exeter Academy Regional Associations". Retrieved 2018-05-03.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Check out Key FEDTalks: True Digital Transformation for 21st Century Bureaucracies with Tom Cochran at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Sep 13, 2017". Eventful. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  7. ^ "United States Patent Application: 0040030697". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  8. ^ "Thomas Eric Cochran Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  9. ^ "A Blue State Digital Love Story | Blue State Digital | A Full-Service Digital Agency". 2012-07-19. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2018-04-30.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Obama 2008 Campaign | Digital Case Study | Blue State Digital". Blue State Digital. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  11. ^ "Obama's Secret Digital Weapon". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  12. ^ "Farewell to Obama, our first digital president". Recode. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  13. ^ "Obama's White House webmaster says we should cut Trump's team some slack". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  14. ^ "Why I Phished My Own Company". Harvard Business Review. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  15. ^ "Email Is Not Free". Harvard Business Review. 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  16. ^ Newport, Cal (2016-01-05). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9781455586660.
  17. ^ "The Obama Campaign Goes Global". Time, Inc. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  18. ^ "State Department Steals Atlantic Media CTO". AdWeek. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  19. ^ Scola, Nancy (2014-09-30). "Meet Share America, the U.S. State Department's Upworthy clone". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  20. ^ "State's ShareAmerica Takes a Very Social Approach". DigitalGov. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  21. ^ "Edelman names former Obama digital guru as D.C. general manager". Axios. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  22. ^ "Tom Cochran Returns as Partner and Chief Growth Officer". 720 Strategies. 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  23. ^ "Tom Cochran | adtech tokyo official website". adtech tokyo official website. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  24. ^ "Heading to the Tech Summit next week? Here are 5 speakers not to miss?". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  25. ^ "Keynote Tom Cochran". iMedia Brand Summit. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  26. ^ "How I Led Change in the U.S. State Department Bureaucracy". Harvard Business Review. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  27. ^ "'Il n'y avait ni wi-fi ni Bluetooth' : Tom Cochran, ex-digital leader de la Maison-Blanche". Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  28. ^ "Faculty Profile: Thomas Cochran". American University. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  29. ^ "Tom Cochran author page". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  30. ^ "The US should treat its citizens like Amazon treats its customers". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  31. ^ "Why government websites suck so much, according to Obama's White House webmaster". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  32. ^ "Tom Cochran author biography". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2018-04-30.

External links[edit]