RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Monday’s sale of Local Tech Wire to Capitol Broadcasting is a significant milestone in the history of a four-year-old venture dedicated to coverage of the technology, life science and venture capital industries across the Carolinas and Georgia.
We have a new name — WRAL Local Tech Wire. But the mission remains the same.
We launched LTW in the midst of the 2001-2002 economic downturn. Our founders were not dissuaded by the terror attacks in September of 2001 nor the lingering economic fallout of those strikes. Of course, the tech sector was also still groggy from the collapse of the “dot com” and telecom bubbles.
In January of 2002, LTW went live as a site designed to provide a package of content not found elsewhere. Rather than news focused on one community or a series of repackaged news releases or just a series of brief items, LTW focused on producing original content covering the Carolinas and Georgia.
Was the task easy? Not a bit.
In addition to fighting a bad economy, LTW had to establish itself as a credible news source and as an alternative to existing offerings. Over time, we believe we did so with a mixture of breaking news stories, in-depth interviews, commentary and features. Our efforts earned us the Media Company Award from the North Carolina technology Association in 2003.
In announcing the sale, Andy Agrawal, a Charlotte entrepreneur and one of our founders, remembered the ups and downs.
“Our original vision was to provide a vehicle for reporting on the technology and life science industries in the Carolinas and Atlanta,” he said. “After four roller coaster years, we believe we have accomplished our vision.”
Many, many people helped along the way to make LTW a reality. Especially crucial was co-founder Allen Maurer (now an editor with North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry), who worked the life science and venture capital beats extremely proficiently.
Free-lance writers were always crucial to the coverage of news that led to the growth LTW demonstrated. Among the very best was Cal Chang Yocum, who has since moved to California. She wrote a very popular RTP Beat column. Other key players along the way included Matthew Burns, who covered venture news, and Bea Quirk, who worked our Charlotte beat.
Cindy Stranad contributed much to LTW’s success both in advertising and marketing as well as writing.
We also grew the business from beyond an advertising-supported web site to more of a multi-media company. For example, our TechExec networking events done in conjunction with ClearImagePR in the Triangle have proved to be quite a success. These were designed to create an environment in which C-level executives could socialize with their peers, and they have succeeded to the point that they are done on a quarterly basis. (LTW also conducts TechExecs in Charlotte, working with the Business, Innovation and Growth Council.)
On to the Future
Today, with nearly 13,000 news items published and a growing readership, Local Tech Wire becomes part of a larger operation — Capitol Broadcasting’s New Media Group.
Capitol operates WRAL-TV, WRAL-FM, WRAZ-TV AND WCMC-FM in the Triangle market and has a long history of being involved in high-tech and news coverage related to it. Not only did Capitol launch once of the early Internet Service Providers (Interpath), more than a decade ago, its WRAL-TV devoted a reporter to full-time coverage of all things tech as the Internet explosion began.
WRAL-TV also embraced the world wide web early on. Its web site (www.wral.com) has won numerous awards and is the most popular site in the market.
Further, WRAL launched the first commercial high definition television station.
The pattern is clear. When it comes to technology, Capitol takes a backseat to no one or company.
Becoming part of Capitol is good news for LTW’s readers and its supporters. Access to additional resources will mean more news, more features, and enhancements over time to the WRAL Local Tech Wire web site.
Jimmy Goodmon, the vice president and general manager of Capitol’s New Media Group LLC that will operate LTW, is excited to add LTW.
“We see the addition of LTW as being a significant boost to our company’s digital media efforts,” he said. “The content is rich and there is a clear need in the marketplace for this information. With an influx of additional resources, we believe LTW will draw even more readers and sponsors.”
From the Editor’s Chair
As one of LTW’s co-founders and its managing editor from the start, I have enjoyed the privilege of working with many fine people. I’ll be staying on as part of LTW’s move to new ownership, and I am thrilled to continue to be part of this publication.
Our commitment to original content focused on the region’s life science and high-tech companies will always run deep.
As with any startups, we have had successes and failures. For example, we launched LTW as a subscriber-fee based service with some sponsors. After a few months, when it became clear that model was not working, we shifted to a free content site.
Once that change was made, our readership surged. And so did our network of supporters — like you.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for exciting news in the near future about where LTW is headed now.
Rick Smith is general manager and editor of WRAL Local Tech Wire.