Byline: Rosamund Urwin
DWARD Saatchi is Obamaobsessed.
EThe son of advertising mogul and Conservative peer Maurice says he has almost no interest in British politics but became so enamoured of the then Senator four years ago that he flew to the US to help with the presidential campaign, despite being a UK national and halfway through a masters at the Sorbonne.
"I was completely crazy about him and still am," he says. "[Obama gives] the impression of someone who is not needy or hungry for attention. There is no burning anxiety, as every other politician I have met has had."
That the 26-year-old has a bevvy of politicians to compare the US President with is testament to the elite circle his parents moved in. In 1970, Maurice and his elder brother Charles founded Saatchi & Saatchi, a firm which was made synonymous with Thatcherism by its celebrated "Labour isn't working" poster for the 1979 election campaign. Saatchi & Saatchi later became the embodiment of the Eighties advertising boom. Maurice was elevated to the peerage in 1996 and, as joint chairman of the Conservatives, ran the party's general election campaign six years ago.
Maurice and his wife -- the late author and poetry promoter Josephine Hart -- also had friends in the worlds of literature and academia. But Edward is blase about those scoring invites to the Saatchi family homes, a Mayfair pad, a mock Tudor castle in Sussex and a villa in the South of France: "You don't notice it as a kid. They are just people who are putting you on their shoulders or running around with you."
Obama, by contrast, remains an inspiration. In fact, Saatchi, who hopes to become Britain's answer to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, owes his technology start-up, NationalField, to the President.
While working on the campaign, he met Justin Lewis, a "computer brain", and Aharon Wasserman, an "expert in design". Together, the trio created a website which allowed their fellow campaigners to understand what everyone else was working on.
"It was just to solve our own problems," Saatchi explains. "You have a huge organisation and it's growing -- it is very tough to see how everyone was connected and all the work people were doing." When President Obama was elected and the volunteers disbanded, their former co-workers went back to their companies and wanted to take the NationalField technology with them. They suggested the trio turn their campaign tool into a business.
NationalField is Facebook minus the faff: a social networking site which businesses might actually want their staff to use. Designed for organisations, it enables users to share data swiftly and bosses to receive feedback: one of its most popular functions allows junior staff to flag up their achievements to their seniors while also raising a concern or criticism. The most high-profile user imaginable is still a devotee: "It becomes really addictive, so President Obama uses it with [his daughters] Sasha and Malia -- he calls it roses and thorns -- and with his cabinet too."
It looks, he admits, "exactly like Facebook" and Facebook founder Chris Hughes is on its board. The intention is to ape what people use in their private lives for professional life: "Why should people have to learn a new system?" With his ginger afro, Saatchi Jnr looks like Mick Hucknall crossed with Sideways actor Paul Giamatti with a dash of The Simpson's Sideshow Bob thrown in. …