As the first vice president of business development and marketing at eBay, Atherton resident John Thibault helped build a business where the power of the internet gave ordinary people access to an international market that previously had only been available to large companies.
Earlier in his career, working in government affairs for the entertainment giant Universal Studios, MCA, Mr. Thibault had seen first-hand how a huge corporation could use lobbying power and personal relationships to influence laws and regulations.
Mr. Thibault combined those two ideas into iLobby, a website that he says is designed to give ordinary people access to politicians and the power of lobbying usually only available to the wealthy and powerful.
Now Mr. Thibault has written a book explaining how his website works. "How to Change a Law" is a slim 105-page book that tells how anyone can use his website to change a law in seven simple steps. The book, he says, is for frustrated voters who want to become better policy advocates.
The website (which can be found at iLobby.co not .com) allows users to post debates on issues they care about. Other users can then vote on the debates, and pledge virtual money to support them. Registered users can post up to three arguments for or against any proposal.
Mr. Thibault said that once the website has more users, he plans to make the funding aspect real, not virtual, so those who support an issue could crowd-fund the hiring of professional lobbyists.
While the website currently has no income, it is a for-profit company and Mr. Thibault envisions someday taking a cut of the money raised on the site like other sites such as Kickstarter do.
Donors' credit cards would not be charged until a minimum threshold was met. Then iLobby would provide a list of public policy firms and lobbyists who could be hired to help with the issue.
The website, and the book, urges users to post links both supporting and opposing an issue, just as, he says, a politician would want to know both sides of an issue brought to her attention by a constituent.
Mr. Thibault, who has lived in Atherton since 1999, runs the private family Thibault Foundation with his wife Debbie. The foundation supports charitable efforts focusing primarily on children's health, entrepreneurial financial literacy, education and self-sufficiency. They have three teenage children.
He serves on the town of Atherton's technical subcommittee, has helped run the campaigns for two successful local property tax measures, and has served as a campaign adviser to five successful local candidates.
The book is available on Amazon.com as a Kindle book or paperback and on June 5 was the No. 1 bestseller on Kindle e-books for practical law guides.