Washington, DC, United States
Wikistrat Inc. is a geostrategic analysis and business consultancy founded in Israel in 2010 and headquartered in the United States. It describes itself as the world's first crowdsourced consultancy leveraging a global network of over 2,000 subject-matter experts.
Rather than employing a stable of in-house analysts, Wikistrat maintains a network of hundreds of academics, consultants, journalists, and retired government/military personnel. Contributors are invited to participate in a given project if they have relevant expertise, and each individual is compensated for his or her time. Analysts can accept or refuse invitations on a case-by-case basis.
The company uses gamification to incentivize analyst participation. CEO Joel Zamel, who is also head of Psy-Group, said in 2013, "[Wikistrat's platform] uses a gamification engine we created that incentivizes analysts by ranking them at different levels for the work they do on the platform. They are immediately rewarded through the engine, and we also track granular changes made in real time. This allows us to track analyst activity and encourages them to put time and energy into Wiki analysis."
Among the notable members of Wikstrat's analytic community are Richard Weitz, Daniel Pipes, Parag Khanna, Kenneth R. Timmerman, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Shaukat Qadir, James Joyner, James C. Bennett, Leon Hadar, Michael Rubin, Mark Galeotti and Anne-Marie Slaughter.
The company was founded in 2010 in Israel by Joel Zamel and Daniel Green. After studying counter-terrorism, Zamel founded Wikistrat Inc. and became CEO, while Green came aboard as the company's chief technology officer. Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett joined the firm as chief analyst a year later. Barnett is no longer with the firm.
2011 Grand Strategy Competition
Between June and July 2011, Wikistrat hosted an "International Grand Strategy Competition" which tested the company's collaborative competition approach. More than thirty teams of MA and PhD students representing universities and think tanks participated in the month-long competition in which teams simulated thirteen countries. Participants' affiliations included the UK Defence Forum, the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies' Center for Global Affairs, the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and the University of Sussex. The team from Claremont Graduate University's School of Politics and Economics won the competition and a $10,000 prize.
The NYU team's predicted that Russia would ultimately have to outsource its security if it were to continue experiencing demographic decline, and if its economy were to remain heavily dependent on commodity exports. Participants from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies argued that India was rooting for Pakistan's disintegration, considering the collapse of the Muslim state as a prerequisite to fully institutionalizing India's alliance with the United States. Students at Sussex believed that North Korea would collapse without Chinese support and therefore recommended that the nation diversify its allies. Organizers were surprised by the level of interest in the competition.
In 2010, it ran a simulation on the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, the results of which were referenced (in articles by the organization's chief strategist) on CNN, Time and World Politics Review after Kim died in late 2011.
In January 2014, Wikistrat analysts predicted the rise of a separatist movement in Crimea seeking Russian annexation. This process unfolded in March 2014, prompting digital magazine InformationWeek to write that Wikistrat "beat the CIA."
2016 US presidential election campaign
US Special Counsel Robert Mueller ― who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 American elections ― questioned Wikistrat founder Joel Zamel about his relationship with George Nader, a witness who is cooperating in the Special Counsel investigation. Mueller also asked questions about the work of Wikistrat.
Donald Trump Jr. had met with Zamel, Nader, and Erik Prince in Trump Tower in August 2016. Their discussion reportedly included an offer on the part of Zamel for pro-Trump manipulation of social media.
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- Mazzetti, Mark; Bergman, Ronen; Kirkpatrick, David D. (2018-05-19). "Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election". New York Times.