The last two years have been a rollercoaster journey for Matt Oczkowski. On the evening of the 2016 general elections, he sat inside then-candidate Donald Trump’s San Antonio campaign headquarters, where he led a team of anxious data scientists crunching numbers throughout the day before an unexpected victory party at a local saloon much afterward that night. The former Scott Walker aide invested the following year speaking to the press and at seminars around the world about the Trump team’s winning strategy. But that professional crest soon descended into months of fending off accusations about the company he worked for while on the campaign: Cambridge Analytica.
“When I first joined there, I legitimately believed in the offering and what they were trying to do, ” Oczkowski says. “It’s inauspicious that some actions by a few performers at the senior degree of the company reflected poorly on the entire company.”
In the wake of a data privacy debacle relating to the misappropriation of as many as 87 million Facebook customers’ personal data, Cambridge Analytica has since ceased procedures and become the subject of international investigations. Though Oczkowski left the company in April 2017, long before the scandal broke, he now joins hundreds of former employees trying to start over in a world that has, almost overnight, begun looking at the field of data science not as novel and innovative, but as intrusive and inescapable.
‘We’re trying to figure out what shapes your worldview.’
Matt Oczkowski, Data Propria
For Oczkowski, that new beginning signifies starting a data company called Data Propria. The firm officially launched earlier this year, and has already begun working with corporate clients and politicians, including Illinois governor Bruce Rauner’s reelection campaign. It’s owned by a mother corporation called CloudCommerce, which also recently acquired the digital marketing firm belonging to Brad Parscale, Trump’s current campaign administrator and the 2016 campaign’s former digital administrator. Now, working out of Data Propria’s San Antonio headquarters with some of his colleagues from that 2016 operate, Oczkowski hopes to continue the data analytics work he started back then.