In Verve Wireless, Founders Create a Mobile Technology Platform and a Lifeline for Local News

10/6/10Follow @bvbigelow

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local news and other content would be especially valuable in mobile communications. “I was just seeing how local advertisers followed consumers—and the consumers followed local content,” Kenney says.

Yet, Kenney recalls, “We talked with a lot of newspaper publishers about mobile, and asked when they thought it was going to be important, and what they thought was going to be important about the mobile market. It became very clear, very quickly, that they were not going to develop products to get into that market themselves. So we literally had to build the system ourselves to allow our partners to get into the mobile market.”

Kenney says he sought out Howe with the idea of asking him to be an advisor. They hit it off so well, they decided to join forces instead. Howe, who has owned and operated some 50 newspapers, including The Village Voice, says, “We both shared a vision that mobile would play a huge role in local media. It’s kind of made for local media.”

Art Howe

Art Howe

Howe has been blessed by the publishing business. He worked in the last half of the 1970s as a reporter at mid-size daily and big city newspapers. He won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting at the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1986, the same year he got his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to work as the Inquirer’s director of circulation, marketing, and strategic planning. And in 1998, Howe became the CEO of Montgomery Newspapers, which he built over the next 11 years into the Philadelphia region’s largest group of suburban newspapers, magazines, and specialty publications.

“I love publishing,” Howe told me in a phone call yesterday. “I love it. I love the business model. But I was appalled when I learned that 70 percent of [daily newspapers'] home delivery subscriptions lapsed every year—and that for a lot of big city newspapers it’s more than 70 percent that lapse every year.”

Howe says he remembers … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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