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September 16, 2015

Changing Course To ‘Navigate the Politics of Disruption’

Enter Vrge, a strategic communications firm based in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Ten years ago, 463 made a simple bet: there was a major disconnect between Washington and Silicon Valley, and companies needed help bridging those dramatically different worlds. Hence, the 463 double play was born. That proposition proved out in so many ways. But a decade later, the world has changed – and so must we.

That’s why we’re disrupting ourselves.

463 is no more.

Enter Vrge, a strategic communications firm based in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Vrge shares some DNA with the old organization, but it’s an entirely new venture — with new people, a new logo, a new mission, and yes, new swag.

Vrge is focused on a much broader question – how should companies and organizations navigate the political, policy, regulatory and social impact that disruptive technologies and business models have on the world around us. How should they navigate what we call the “Politics of Disruption?”

In some ways, the work will be similar. Pure tech companies and organizations still need to move their issues in Washington or advance their position in legal battles.

But in other ways, Vrge will chart an entirely new course.

As we said, the world has changed. Look at any company today and you see technology. Every company is a tech company. And the innovations and advances of the last decade – big data, mobile and platforms – are upending every market, with winners and losers determined based on who most effectively manages this disruption. Those that move quickly and strategically will thrive. And those that don’t, won’t.

The policy battlefield has expanded well beyond Washington and Brussels to state and local governments around the world (witness Uber and Airbnb; drones and privacy). Disruptors are running into societal concerns early on that can lead to business conflict, as well as legal and regulatory issues. Also as startups increasingly look to upend highly-regulated industries like healthcare, energy, and finance, they must focus on policy and regulatory issues from the get-go, rather than three years to five years down the line.

Where does Vrge fit in?

We help startups and established companies – disruptors and the disrupted – navigate this uncharted territory by positioning them, identifying the audiences that matter most, and creating advocacy campaigns to advance their goals – whether they be legislative, regulatory, societal or business-to-business.

As part of the new venture, Vrge is establishing a U.S.-focused research and polling firm, Vrge Analytics, in partnership with Redshift Research, an international research and survey firm. This partnership – and the enhanced capability it brings – reflects the need for disruptors and the disrupted to understand changes in markets and audiences and identify when inflection points are being reached.

Vrge has a unique collection of talent with a very particular set of skills designed to tackle this new world. Mark Blafkin is a recognized expert in organizing like-minded parties to create brilliant advocacy campaigns. He knows how Washington works, and he’s now surrounded by start-ups and tech leaders in Seattle. Tom Galvin has played corporate and policy chess at the highest level for two decades, having lived and worked in both Washington and Silicon Valley. Scott Gerber has worked for political heavyweights in California (Jerry Brown) and DC (Dianne Feinstein), and he knows tech policy. And Josh Zecher has straddled the worlds of corporate public relations and state and federal policy devising and implementing impactful campaigns that have influenced consumers, businesses and legislators.

Collectively, we understand Washington, Silicon Valley, the Seattle start-up community and what drives federal and state elected officials. We are marshaling this skill-set to define what the next generation of advocacy looks like.

This is a bet, albeit one firmly grounded in research and experience. We don’t expect everyone will see it at first. But over time, when we see a clash of titans as companies vie for control over content platforms, or smaller upstarts trying to avoid being squeezed out of marketing and sales platforms, or the latest proxy fight over policy, it will become more apparent.
And the winners? Those will be the ones who master the Politics of Disruption.

We look forward to working with you. You can check us out at Vrge.us .

Josh, Mark, Scott & Tom

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