In 2011, Hashem founded DE-DE (short for Design & Develop), a New York-based studio that combines software and marketing skills to build digital products. The company was capitalized with an investment from Droga5.
The model of DE-DE was much like a "Hollywood studio for startups". DE-DE would use limited capital, talent and resources to "executive produce" new ideas with "product directors" leading each. The model is designed to build multiple early prototypes and products that have potential of becoming startup businesses of their own. Products would either be spun out as new companies, sold to third parties or shelved.
As CEO of DE-DE, Hashem led a 12-person engineering, design and product team across several ventures. The company's first product, a tool to amplify social media called Thunderclap, grew to 2 million unique users per month and spun out as a separate startup and team that has become profitable.
Hashem created financial value for DE-DE and its investor by closing an acquisition of another of the company's products, a visual mail app for iPad called Birdseye. The product was acquired by Russian technology giant Yandex for $4 million — an 8X return on investment.
DE-DE, and its parent company Droga5, were both acquired by William Morris Endeavor.
We benefited greatly from the advice and consultation of the team at Prehype.
Thunderclap was DE-DE's first product and was spun out as a separate company that is now profitable with over 1 million users per month.
What it is:
Thunderclap helps people with an important message be heard better by synchronizing social media across a group of supporters to amplify their voices and cut through the clutter.
How it Works:
Anyone with a tweet-sized message about something they care about can create a Thunderclap campaign with that message. They can then invite their network to lend their voices and support the message on Thunderclap. If enough people support the message, Thunderclap will blast out the original message on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr from all of the supporters’ social media accounts at the same time, automatically creating a wave of activity that can’t be ignored.
Thunderclap is empowering a diverse audience from passionate individuals on a local level, to politicians on a national stage, to artists sharing work, to brands who engaging their consumers, to causes creating change around the world.
Many organizations and individuals are creating Thunderclap campaigns or supporting them.
The White House, United Nations, Kathryn Bigelow, Matt Taibbi, ONE.org, Stand Up To Cancer, Charity:Water, NAACP, Candie’s Foundation, Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity, World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, Amnesty International, Save the Children, Glenn Beck, Al Jazeera, HuffPo, Human Rights Watch
Barack Obama, Alicia Keys, Russell Simmons, Richard Branson, Piers Morgan, Gisele Bündchen, Carly Rae Jepsen, Stephen Fry, William Shatner, Mark Ruffalo, Tim O’Reilly, David Cameron
Thunderclap is free for anyone to use. There is a paid Pro version offering more content customization, supporter analytics, promotional tools and white label ability to embed their Thunderclap experience anywhere.
The idea was inspired by the "Human Megaphone" from Occupy Wall Street, where an individual speaker would say a sentence and it would be repeated by concentric circles of people around him/her until everyone in the park heard the message.
I led DE-DE, the studio that funded and produced Thunderclap. I also led the branding, marketing. launch and initial partnerships for the product. David Cascino is the Founder/CEO of Thunderclap.
Pling was one of DE-DE's more complex products from a technical perspective, involving fast voice communication using an audio platform that powered an iOS app, an OSX app and an embeddable offering on websites without an app.
What it is:
Pling is a push-to-talk voice messenger that helps individuals and groups communicate quickly and naturally. Pling combines the brevity and speed of a text message with the personality and nuance of voice.
How it works:
The app works with a simple “push to talk” mechanism allowing for very fast recording and sending of messages that get straight to the point. The app can sync with your contacts or company directory. If a recipient has Pling, they’ll receive a notification. If not, they’ll get an email or SMS with the audio message.
What the benefits are:
Pling brings back nuance to communications and allows for more accurate, efficient and natural communications. For the modern work force, Pling helps connect distributed team members over distance, reduce emails and meetings, and strengthen client relationships. For individuals, Pling makes social conversation and planning simpler and with more personality.
I led the initial concept ideation of this product with Prehype and led the development of version 1.0 inside DE-DE with my partner Robert Spychala.
Birdseye gained a lot of attention at launch as one of the few iPad email clients built from the ground up for the iPad. In 2013 it was acquired from DE-DE by Russian tech giant Yandex and will be the basis of Yandex Mail for iOS.
What it is:
Birdseye is the first email client built from the ground up for tablets. Birdseye is a finger friendly, visual overview of your inbox with intuitive actions for each email type to cut through the overload.
How it works:
Birdseye makes use of the iPad’s stunning display by rendering full previews of your email in a beautiful visual stream. Using OpenGraph tags, Birdseye has Smart Actions let you perform tasks specific to email type right in the Inbox. Place a bid on that auction. Follow someone back on Twitter. Or unsubscribe from that annoying newsletter. All with one tap.
I led the initial concept ideation of this product and led the development of version 1.0 inside DE-DE with my partner Robert Spychala who is now Founder/CEO of Birdseye Mail.
For the launch of his autobiography, hip-hop’s premiere entrepreneur turned marketing into interactive art. Jay-Z worked with Droga5, who conceived and executed the campaign with the help of Microsoft search engine Bing. I was the strategic lead on this campaign and with the creative team developed the architecture for how it would be executed.
Harvard Business School Case Study:
Effie Award Effectiveness Paper:
Jay-Z Decoded was an innovative way to help Microsofts search engine Bing create competitive advantage over its much more established and out-sized rival, Google. Bing needed to increase usage and position itself as a modern choice to a younger audience that was key to growing market share, but is highly suspect of advertising and product claims. We created a strategy that used demonstration of Bing products against a big canvas in cultural to achieve a real, quantifiable gain against Google and relevancy in the market.
At the same time we were approached by Jay-Z who was about to launch his autobiography, Decoded, and wanted to connect with his young audience in a new digitally driven way that would be on the scale of his album launches.
With one idea, we brought together two unlikely partners for mutual benefit.
Over the course of one month we created a real-life treasure hunt where 5-10 pages from the book would be placed everyday in a unique physical location around the globe that has direct relevancy to the individual page and literally have fans “walking the streets” from Jigga’s past. In addition to large scale posters and outdoor placements, we created many one of kind media places. Such as a Gucci leather jacket lined with a page, pages burnished on restaurant plates, a bronze plaque on Marcy Housing Projects where Jay-Z grew up, the bottom of a pool in Miami, etc.
We tied it all together online with a specially made Bing Maps and Search that allowed fans to find clues to reveal the exact location of the pages each day. The first to "claim" the page would win a signed copy of the page by Jay-Z and would be entered in a grand prize for lifetime tickets to Jay-Z's concerns.
The campaign only took a month’s time, but the resulting effects on popular culture are priceless.
I was part of the core leadership team from its initial development through its execution. I specifically led brand strategy and media architecture for the program.
For the UN's World Humanitarian Day, Droga5 worked wtih teh UN, Beyonce and DE-DE's Thunderclap product to create a global public engagement program culminating in a message of peace being spread to over a billion people.
The United Nations designated August 19 World Humanitarian Day to raise public awareness of humanitarian assistance worldwide. To make World Humanitarian Day 2012 a truly global celebration, Droga5 partnered with the United Nations and Beyoncé Knowles to create a campaign that would make August 19 a day to remember.
DE-DE's product, Thunderclap, was used to allow people around the world to pledge support for World Humanitarian Day by spreading a social media message of hope all together on August 19. On that same day, a unique event in the UN General Assembly Hall brought together humanitarian aid workers and UN officials to share their stories with an audience of more than 1,200 people; the evening culminated in a performance by Beyoncé of her song, “I Was Here,” honoring those who have given their time and in some cases their lives.
All in all, the campaign generated a record-breaking social reach of 1,029,763,492, through Thunderclap encouraging people to celebrate World Humanitarian Day by simply doing something good, somewhere, for someone else.
I led the Thunderclap team at DE-DE that worked with the UN, Beyonce and Droga5 to execute the program.
WindMade was a campaign and program created by Droga5 with its client, Vestas, the world's largest maker of wind turbines. I led the initial strategic work on this program.
What it is:
We created the first label of its kind, called WindMade, that shows consumers which products they buy have been produced using a majority of wind energy. The label allows companies to communicate their commitment to renewable energy, and it provides consumers with the choice to favor companies and products using wind power.
How it works:
The WindMade Product Label can be applied to all products using a minimum share of 75% of renewable energy in their total electricity consumption, with wind power representing the largest share. A cradle-to-gate approach was adopted, which means that the label will cover the entire power consumption for all product components, from the extraction of the raw materials all the way to the product leaving the factory gate.
The WindMade mark is managed by the WindMade Organization, a non-profit entity setup to promote this new standard globally.
I led brand strategy during initial concepting.
"The Computer is Personal Again" was a global brand campaign created by Goodby, Silverstein and Partners in 2006. I was part of the strategic team and helped implement the campaign in digital channels.
Harvard Business School Case Study:
In 2006 computers were treated as commodities sold on speeds and feeds. Our campaign sought to put the "personal" back in "Personal Computers". We positioned HP as the company that understands how computers had become essential to our lives and truly the most personal thing we own.
The advertising highlighted how celebrities and notable people in culture use their computers in ways personal to them. TV advertising created mini-biographies of these people by using motion graphics to show the personal things they do with their computers, while obscuring their faces.
The campaign was deployed globally and adapted in every country that HP operated in and led to an increase in market share overtaking Dell to become the #1 personal computer maker worldwide.
I was part of the strategy team that identified the early consumer and market insights. As the campaign came to life I led the digital strategy and ideation.
Night Out was one of our earliest projects and instead of being launched by itself we chose to transact it to LVMH's Hennessy brand to serve as part of their marketing efforts.
What it is:
Night Out recaptures the night with your friends. It’s like handing out a bunch of disposable cameras to the group before you all go out together. The mobile app invites friends at an event to take pictures together in one shared album.
How it works:
Create a Night Out even in the app and invite the friends you’re with to join. They get links to download the app and join in. Take pictures throughout the night using the app, and have your friends do the same. Put together what really happened when the pictures become available the next day at noon, and everyone in the group gets to see everybody else’s pictures in one stream.
I was product lead and ran the studio that created it, DE-DE.
Bottle Shock was a side project of DE-DE that was designed and developed but never launched as focus shifted to bigger product efforts.
What it is:
Every wine has a story. Bottle Shock helps people order a great wine at a restaurant by giving just one recommendation of a wine at that venue with an unusual talk-worthy story about the wine. The world of wine can be complex, intimidating and overwhelming. The app attempts to create a more accessible narrative vs the typical language of wine..
How it works:
A person launches the app and it takes their location and displays restaurants nearby. Tapping any of the restaurants displays a 3D wine bottle with a short tweet-sized story about one wine at that venue to order. The stories are chosen not by the typical complex language of wine but by compelling anecdotes that create a cool talking point with others. A fresh take on the usually unapproachable wine world.
I was product lead on this and ran the studio that created it, DE-DE.
In 2006 the Wired Next Fest was a physical event that larger brands wanted to show of technology innovation at. GM's Saturn brand hired Goodby, Silverstein and Partners to create a a unique way to show off the Hybrid technology in their new vehicles at this event.
We used projection systems on the actual surface of the vehicles to inform conference attendees about the technology inside the car without having to cut it open. We also developed a 45’ interactive 4,000 pixel video wall that allowed users to type in their thoughts about the hybrids and clean energy and then use motion to trigger their text in the massive display.
This installation was done in collaboration with the Barbarian Group who programmed the interaction and media of the grass wall and with Obscura Digital who built the projection mapping hardware of the cars.
I led overall strategy and worked closely with the creative team to design how the technology and media could tell a compelling story.