FiscalNote's latest acquisition could be the first of many - Technical.ly DC

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Sep. 13, 2017 12:10 pm

FiscalNote’s latest acquisition could be the first of many

Along with buying VoterVoice, the startup is in the midst of an international expansion, said CEO Tim Hwang.

FiscalNote CEO Tim Hwang speaks at a Center for Data Innovation event.

(Photo via Twitter)

Correction: The story was updated to clarify download stats initially attributed to the MyCandidate app that were in fact tied to different apps created by FiscalNote. (9/13/17, 4:57 p.m.)

Tim Hwang wants you to understand government and advocate. Which government? All of them. And, if the future is as turbulent as the present, many more companies will want what he’s selling.

“We’re making a very big push internationally,” Hwang told Technical.ly DC in a call from Seoul, South Korea. “You look at political uncertainty out here in Asia. You have border conflicts with China, in India, all the way to the North Korea situation. You have political unrest in South America… and talks throughout Africa over a common currency.”

Hwang is the CEO of FiscalNote, a growing four-year-old Regtech firm that helps companies track and analyze millions of pieces of legislation and regulations. The company, which is set to move into a new D.C. office next year, recently acquired grassroots advocacy tool VoterVoice, which has offices in Tysons Corner, Va., and Baton Rouge, La. It’s investing millions on upgrades to improve public engagement with elected and government officials, create targeted messaging and track the progress of campaigns.

“We’re making investments to make that happen,” Hwang said.

The VoterVoice deal is the second acquisition for FiscalNote after buying MyCandidate in 2015, an application that enables South Koreans to interact with members of the General Assembly through grassroots campaigns and direct messaging. A pair of sites created by FiscalNote reached 5 million people after last year’s impeachment of President Park Geun-hye – approximately a fifth of the voting population, according to FiscalNote. VoterVoice essentially performs a similar function in the U.S., and brings 1,100 nonprofits and 22 million users to the table.

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Hwang said that FiscalNote is looking at a half dozen more companies to acquire, and that his company’s work is non-biased and caters to hundreds of clients including the National Rifle Association, The Boys and Girls Club of America, Planned Parenthood and Microsoft.

“We want to get more data and provide more capabilities and functionality for companies and organizations to connect better with their government,” he said. “I think we’re going to go on a pretty heavy acquisition spree over the next several months trying to bring more capabilities and functionality to our customers.”

Refining messages and understanding government isn’t limited to the consumer, or even nonprofits and corporations. It also cuts across borders, Hwang said.

“We have a lot of embassy clients and foreign ministries,” Hwang said. “Most countries today have a very strong interest in making that information available – to foster better investment, trade, to create better compliance between firms, to create a greater ease of burden for operating businesses. The grassroots element is something that we are working out.”

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James Cullum

Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the Capitol and D.C.'s growing tech scene.

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