The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Capitol Broadcasting is rebranding and expanding its News Over Wireless business unit with a new name, a broader mission and a new executive in charge.

Brian Handly, a veteran Internet advertising technology executive who for several years led Raleigh-based Accipiter, is the chief executive officer of the newly named StepLeader.

The mission of StepLeader is to explore, develop and deliver new means of technology for digital advertising and other content as well as news over mobile and emerging smart TV technology.

StepLeader is derived from a meteorological term that refers to invisible energy needed for a lightning strike.

Since its founding in 2005, News Over Wireless had worked with TV stations and other clients across the country to deliver news and other information to mobile devices.

As part of the changes, Sam Matheny, who led NOW, will take on a role as vice president with Capitol Broadcasting, focusing on technology and other issues.

Capitol is announcing the changes Monday morning.

“We have a great team, an industry leading technology platform, and a deep client base,” said Jimmy Goodmon, vice president of Captiol’s New Media division which includes StepLeader. “Combine those elements with the fact that we are smack in the middle of the local mobile media space and the future looks bright for StepLeader.”

NOW is an industry leader, not only enabling TV stations to capitalize on the exploding growth of mobile multimedia devices such as smartphones and tablets but also developing applications for special projects. For example, NOW created an app for live broadcasts and links to additional online data during the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor in Los Angeles. The group employs 23 people and recently moved into office space in Raleigh away from Capitol’s broadcast headquarters.

A key mission for StepLeader now is to find ways to capitalize on the growing mobile advertising market, which web research firm eMarketer forecasts will reach $2.6 billion this year.

Back into the CEO Chair

Online advertising is a field Handly knows well. One of the first employees of Accipiter in 1996, he was part of the team that entrepreneur Chris Evans developed and sold to CMG for $35 million in 1998. In 2002, Handly and some other Accipiter staffers convinced CMG to spin the company back out. In 2006, the company was sold again to aQuantive in a deal worth $30.3 million. The next year, Mcirosoft acquired aQuantive so Handly and numerous Accipter veterans became part of the software giant. He left the company in 2009, becoming an investor, a mentor to other startups as an advisor to the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, and was named Executive in Residence at N.C. State.

“I am excited about this opportunity,” said Handly, when asked why he was returning to a CEO role. Having known the Goodmon family, which owns Capitol, for several years, Handly said he and Jimmy Goodmon talked about NOW, opportunities in the mobile space, and how Capitol could capitalize on its existing technology in additional ways.

“We talked about what I thought the opportunity was in the space, the tea, the culture and the technology,” Handly explained. “The more we talked, the more excited we became.”

Handly believes his experience in online advertising will help StepLeader expand into additional areas. But he also is seeking more talent. The company already has five job openings and is expected to have as many as 40 employees by year’s end.

Matheny will continue to be involved with StepLeader as an advisor and explore business development opportunities.

“Sam has done a fantastic job getting StepLeader to the place it is today,” Goodmon said. “I cannot emphasize this fact enough. At the same time there is a new position at CBC, VP Policy and Innovation, for which Sam is a perfect fit. So Sam and I have been talking about moving him to this new position for over a year but we were not going to make the move until we found the right replacement. When we started talking to Brian we knew we were talking to the right guy. Brian is a great leader and he has a wealth of digital advertising experience. Most importantly, he is a good guy and someone that Sam and I knew would meld well with the team.”