News & Politics

This DC Website Paid Ken Bone to Come to Its Debate Party in Las Vegas

A brief explainer of FamousDC.

The FamousDC office in Arlington.

Everybody’s backup Halloween costume idea, Ken Bone, appeared most recently at a Las Vegas party the night before Wednesday’s presidential debate. The event was hosted by FamousDC, a company with an increasingly recognizable name and an increasingly hazy definition. Once a simple blog, it has since been built out with original videos, shareable lists, and flashy parties at political get-togethers. So what is it now?

Even FamousDC’s once-anonymous creators can’t—or don’t want to—totally define that. Amos Snead, who launched the site in 2007 with Josh Shultz, says they’ve built a “platform for engaging with millennials on Capitol Hill.” He also calls them a “high-five machine,” because they share positive gossip instead of take-downs. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what we know:

  • FamousDC started as a blog in 2007. Today, it publishes interviews, videos, and a weekly newsletter about and for young professionals on Capitol Hill. There are a lot of inside jokes and birthday announcements. Snead used to work on the Hill, but left for a public-relations shop before founding FamousDC with Shultz. The two pride themselves on having access to an audience they say is overlooked by other outlets.
  • It’s part creative consulting agency. There are no journalists on the staff of about a dozen (everybody chips in to write, and there are anonymous guest contributors from the Hill), but FamousDC employs three graphic designers, two video producers, and a few PR pros to work on partnerships with other brands. Other organizations sometimes hire them to design things.
  • Its office for sure checks off the boxes of “young, hip, start-up.” FamousDC’s Arlington headquarters is all exposed brick and natural light, with everyone working at standing desks and a panda costume kept at the ready for pranks.
  • FamousDC also throws parties, often with cosponsors, like the National Confectioners Association (which also hired them to design packaging for a promotional stunt). Three hundred people attended the pre-debate bash in Las Vegas, where FamousDC paid Bone—who showed up in one of his red, half-zip sweaters—for his time. That was the latest of nine events it’s held over the course of the presidential campaign, including parties in Iowa, Colorado, and Miami. Who attends? Political and campaign staff—both Democrats and Republicans, plus reporters.
  • FamousDC is growing. According to Snead, revenue increased 200 percent between 2014 and 2015, and has grown 2,000 percent since then. So whatever Snead wants people to call his company, it’s working.

Editorial Fellow

Andrea is a fall 2016 editorial fellow at Washingtonian. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in May and has written for Eater, Outside, and Vice. She lives in Bloomingdale.