Category Archives: Littlesis Analysts

Measuring “contagion” effect of political donations using LittleSis data

While the LittleSis website is a useful tool for researchers, academics, journalists, and activists to explore and map networks of powerful people and organizations, our data is available for anyone to use for free under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This means that anyone can use the data in our database for whatever they like, so long as they credit LittleSis and make their own content freely available as well.

Vincent Traag, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, recently used the LittleSis database to track how decisions to donate to political candidates spread through social networks.

Continue reading Measuring “contagion” effect of political donations using LittleSis data

Join a LittleSis training!

Look familiar? You can now join a free online training to get over the hump and start using LittleSis for your power research!

The real value of LittleSis is that anyone can edit and add data to keep the information accurate, current, and most importantly, growing. The more that our community of researchers, journalists, academics, activists, and concerned citizens add their research to LittleSis, the more we can build a collective understanding of the networks of power that shape public policy in our country. Contact us to join a training.

Here are five things LittleSis can help you with that we’ll cover in the training:

Continue reading Join a LittleSis training!

LittleSis is here to help!

We are excited to roll out a new, comprehensive help center to guide our users as they add, edit and analyze data on LittleSis. We have added lots of documentation, as well as a simple layout and a search bar that makes it quick and easy for beginner and advanced analysts to find the information they’re looking for.

Our community of users is the lifeblood of LittleSis. We wouldn’t have over 640,000 relationships among the power elite documented on the site without all of you! That’s why we decided to revamp our help pages and make it easier than ever to map power networks on LittleSis.

  • Joining us for the first time? The help center can get you started adding and editing content.
  • Ready to take your analysis to the next level? Learn how to use our advanced features in the help center.
  • Got stuck before? Give it another shot with the help center at your side!

Check it out now or read on to learn more about some of the new features.

Continue reading LittleSis is here to help!

The Bubble Baron Network

The citizens’ investigation of the Bubble Barons concluded last night, after a month of digging deep on the super-wealthy individuals who benefit most from our bubble economy. Thanks to all who participated! I am currently working on a final piece on the investigation and our findings.

In the meantime, to give you an idea of how much information the bubble baron research crew dug up, take a look at the following two network graphs. The first one shows a snapshot of data on the bubble barons prior to the investigation. The second one shows this network graph after the investigation. The nodes represent bubble barons and the organizations and individuals they are connected with, and the lines represent relationships between them.

A network graph of the bubble barons, before the investigation (click through for the full-size image):

Continue reading The Bubble Baron Network

Digging Deep on a Private Equity Duo

Stephen Schwarzman and David Rubenstein are co-founders of two of the largest private equity firms in the world, the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group.  Both are under investigation by the bubble baron research group, with seanhartnett and Dan doing a tremendous job researching their networks and following their money.

As it turns out, Schwarzman and Rubenstein are closely connected to one another through a number of shared institutional affiliations.  So far, Dan and seanhartnett have connected both of them to JP Morgan, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, the Business Council, and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.  Rubenstein rises to the top of Schwarzman’s interlocks tab, and vice versa.

Two days ago, Dan noticed that Rubenstein was succeeding Schwarzman as chair of the Kennedy Center, and wrote a note:

Continue reading Digging Deep on a Private Equity Duo

How to Research the Bubble Barons’ Charitable Contributions

One of the major objectives of the bubble barons investigation is to figure out where, exactly, all that money is going. Where are these billionaires investing their money? Which politicians do they support? Which charities benefit from their largess?

Today, I’m going to go over strategies for researching charitable contributions, and I’ll use my bubble baron, hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, as a case study.  Several LittleSis analysts have gotten a head start researching these questions – this will offer a bit more direction on how to research these questions. While googling julian-robertson donation will certainly get you somewhere, there are ways to get much more systematic, detailed information about charitable activities.

Continue reading How to Research the Bubble Barons’ Charitable Contributions

What Makes Someone a Bubble Baron?

The Bubble Barons investigation launched last week by AlterNet and has gotten off to a fast start, with over 250 citizen journalists signed up to track down information on the 67 bubble barons we’ve identified. In less than a week, the research group has made over 500 edits to the LittleSis database, building out data on everything from the family ties of Dennis Washington to the investments and donations of Stephen Schwarzman. More than 30 analysts have participated in research trainings.

You can follow the group’s progress at the Bubble Baron research page, which shows recent edits to bubble barons’ profiles, basic information and updates for the group, and notes from Bubble Baron analysts.

For those of you who haven’t signed up, it’s still not too late to get involved: click here to sign up for the Bubble Barons investigation.

What does it take for someone to be deemed a bubble baron? I used three main criteria when creating the list, drawing on Forbes’ lists of the 400 wealthiest Americans: Continue reading What Makes Someone a Bubble Baron?

New Investigation: Exposing the Bubble Barons

Today, in partnership with AlterNet, we are launching a new investigation of the class of American super-rich we’ve deemed the Bubble Barons, “a select group of American multi-billionaires who saw astronomic gains in wealth during the housing bubble, and who so far have evaded all accountability in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” Read the full AlterNet article introducing the project.

We’ve identified 67 bubble barons to target with our investigation. Drawing from Forbes’ lists of the wealthiest Americans for the past ten years, we selected individuals who were worth $2 billion or more (multi-billionaires); whose business activities are mainly in the real estate and finance sectors; and who saw significant gains in net worth over the past ten years (50% or more). Who are they? How have they made their money? Where have they invested it? How have they spent it? Who are their spouses, their friends, their closest business partners?

Join the Bubble Barons research group to help find out!

Continue reading New Investigation: Exposing the Bubble Barons

Analyst roundup

A brief roundup of what’s going on around today…

* Inside the Obama White House. Priscilla, destructor & co continue to power through the Obama White House visitors list, which now includes over 150 visitors to top White House officials. Goldman Sachs has ties to more visitors than any other business, according to our current data.

* Cuomo. Andrew.stecker is digging deep into the networks of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is preparing for a gubernatorial bid against incumbent David Patterson. WileECoyote chipped in with a contribution of his own, noting that Cuomo used to be married to Kerry Kennedy.

* The Boston Chamber. Following on yesterday’s post on the Coakley campaign and making use of our new bulk upload tool (still in the testing phase), I added all 122 board members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to the database. Whew! (sometimes this site is far too addictive). In any case, advanced analysts will be able to turn all kinds of speedy tricks with this magical piece of software in the future.

* New analysts. Today’s new analysts include FlintFM, J.DANQUIST, and Justice4u. Welcome aboard! If you’re an experienced analyst, consider dropping them a welcome note and offering your support as they learn the ropes.

Time, talent, and treasure at the American Museum of Natural History

We are going to begin opening up the blog to LittleSis analysts over the next few months in order to offer more of a platform for their work and analysis and showcase the many ways in which the site is used. If you are an analyst and are interested in contributing, please drop Kevin a note.

Today’s post is by WileECoyote, an analyst who found LittleSis before it had even launched and has made steady and valuable contributions ever since. Wile E. is a fundraiser, and below details insights gleaned from research on the board of the American Museum of Natural History.

It took a bit of time over the last week to place all of the 50 Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History onto LittleSis, but it was an interesting process. As someone who has spent a career in fund raising and higher education, the group seems almost a perfect balance of the “time, talent or treasure” we typically ask a board member to contribute to our causes.

Continue reading Time, talent, and treasure at the American Museum of Natural History