Shadow & the Iowa Democratic Caucus App: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


An Iowa Democratic caucus app came under a lot of scrutiny on Monday, as it was partially blamed for the delayed results from the Iowa caucus. Unnamed sources spoke with HuffPost and said the company that created the app is called Shadow. However, the Iowa Democratic Party has not yet confirmed this, and ACRONYM (which invested in Shadow) said they are not aware of Shadow’s role. Here’s what we know so far about the Iowa Caucus app and the company named Shadow.

1. The Iowa Democratic Party Said the App Didn’t Go Down, While Some Caucus Leaders Said They Couldn’t Log Into the App

In a statement released late Monday night, an Iowa Democratic Party spokesman said the delayed results were caused by a “reporting” problem and not by the app going down, Iowa Starting Line reported.

The spokesman said:

We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

However, Iowa Starting Line did report that many caucus chairs couldn’t log into the app. One caucus chair had been trying to set the app up for two days and couldn’t get it to work. Other precinct chairs said they could send the numbers through the app, but the app was very slow. A backup phone line was also slow to work and some people were on hold for a long time. All this added up to a lot of delays.

In the middle of all this, the Iowa Democratic Party was also performing “quality control checks,” Iowa Starting Line reported.

But others are saying the app was partially responsible for the delay.

2. The Iowa Democratic Party Has Not Said Which Vendor Made the App. HuffPost Reported that Sources Told Them It Was Shadow.

Meanwhile, there’s a he-said-she-said going on about which company made the app. The Wall Street Journal reported that while people were concerned about the app even before the day of the caucus, the Iowa Democratic Party would not reveal who the vendor was because of concern of cyberattacks.

HuffPost, meanwhile, reported on Monday night that unnamed Democratic sources said the tech company was Shadow. HuffPost said that the Iowa Democratic Party had paid Shadow over $60,000 for “website development” in late 2019. According to HuffPost, the payments were for an app that was going to be used to upload result numbers. The article also said that a source from a Presidential campaign confirmed that Shadow created the app.

Lee Fang of the Intercept also said three sources said Shadow built the app.

HuffPost also noted that the Nevada Democratic Party had paid Shadow for website development also.

3. ACRONYM Has Said They Just Invested in Shadow & Don’t Know What Happened with the Caucus

ACRONYM, a company that has invested in Shadow, posted a statement from its spokesman saying they don’t know anything about Shadow’s involvement with the Iowa caucus.

Kyle Tharp, lead of communications for ACRONYM, posted the following to Twitter early Tuesday morning/late Monday night.


Here’s the statement.


The statement reads, in part:

ACRONYM is a nonprofit organization and not a technology company. As such, we have not provided any technology to the Iowa Democratic Party, Presidential campaigns, or the Democratic National Committee. ACRONYM is an investor in several for-profit companies… One of those…is Shadow, Inc., which also has other private investors.

We are reading confirmed reports of Shadow’s work with the Iowa Democratic Party on Twitter, and we, like everyone else, are eagerly awaiting more information from the Iowa Democratic Party with respect to what happened.”

Tara McGowan, CEO of Acronym, shared the tweet.

McGowan released the statement after people shared her tweets when Shadow first launched. You can read some of those tweets below.

McGowan said in her tweet today: “Here are the facts about @anotheracronym’s relationship to @ShadowIncHQ, an independent company ACRONYM invested in. We don’t have any information beyond the public statements the IDP has put out + like all of you, eagerly await learning what happened and who won the IA caucus.”

This same information about ACRONYM being an investor was repeated in an MSNBC interview that you can watch below.

4. Shadow’s Team Implemented Technology for Hillary for America & Obama for America

Shadow’s team has a long history. On their “about” page, they mention that veterans on the team built technology for Hillary for America, Obama for America, Google, Kiva, Apple, the AFL-CIO, and the DNC.

As for the name, they wrote: “When a light is shining, Shadows are a constant companion. We see ourselves as building a long-term, side-by-side ‘Shadow’ of tech infrastructure to the Democratic Party and the progressive community at large.” 

Anna Massoglia, a researcher studying at Open Secrets according to her Twitter bio, tweeted that FEC filings revealed Shadow Inc.’s investors included Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden’s campaigns. Pete for America’s payments appeared to be in July for software rights and subscriptions and Biden for President’s payment was for “Text Messaging.”

5. Iowa Caucus Results Are Not Expected Until Sometime on Tuesday

The official results likely won’t be released until sometime later on Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has released their internal caucus numbers, since Iowa’s official numbers are delayed.

These numbers represent 40% of the Iowa precincts and not the full data. It shows Sanders with 29.66%, Elizabeth Warren with 21.24%, and Pete Buttigieg with 24.59%. Next is Joe Biden with 12.37% and Amy Klobuchar with 11%.

According to reports on social media, Sanders’ precinct captains were collecting data through their own app, which might help pinpoint any irregularities once the official results are released.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign manager said that the Iowa caucus results were a “mess” and every second that passes “undermines the process a little bit,” KIII TV reported. Roger Lau said the campaign hadn’t seen much data, but internal figures showed a three-way tie with Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg. Biden was reportedly a “distant fourth.”

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