Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 7,
1999. All rights reserved.
Ex Dow Jones-ers Start Online Services
Think of start-up Internet companies and you think
of 20-somethings leveraging a shoestring and hoping to strike it rich.
This web startup is very different. Five Dow Jones alumni — men
who pioneered in the business of putting business information online
— have raised $1.2 million to publish their first product, an
online combination of newspaper and newsletter for a vertical, sharply
These vertical product websites will be like trade magazines, but
with the additional capabilities that the Internet offers, says Craig
O. Allsopp, one of the founders of VertiNews.com Inc. (http://www.vertinews.com).
By delivering all the information that a particular professional needs
— and only that area of information — these services can act
as antidotes to the confusing, scattershot results usually generated
by search engines, and they will combat information overload.
Allsopp, president/CEO and the only full-timer of the five, has set
up his office in 1,200 square feet at the Straube Center in Pennington.
Next month he plans to launch the first specialized news service,
for the commercial real estate industry, at a cost of $1,200 per year,
a price competitive with industry newsletters. "Our goal is to
be as timely as most of the news wires and as authoritative as the
professional news letters," says Allsopp.
"Our focus is high quality journalism using the web for distribution,"
says Allsopp. He expects to introduce six to ten products in the next
eight months. Each site will have real-time coverage of breaking news
stories filed by correspondents around the country, a reference archive,
relevant links to other websites, and a provision to set up customized
profiles with E-mail alerts available.
"We are all old Dow Jones hands with great respect for the traditions
of fact-based journalism," says Allsopp. "We all grew up providing
high quality news and information services to a professional marketplace
where people paid for information as they would pay for consulting
services." This will be a valid model for specialized marketplaces,
The other former Dow Jones-ers are William L. Dunn, board chairman,
former executive vice president of Dow Jones and senior vice president
of American Online; Charles Brady, former vice president of technology
at Dow Jones; Everett Groseclose, managing editor of Dow Jones News
Service (the major equity news wire); and James C. Furlong, founder
of several news wires and former managing editor of AP Dow Jones,
the company’s major international news service (http://www.wsj.dowjones.com). They are joined by
Brewster Kahle, inventor of Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), an
electronic publishing technology sold to America Online. He was chief
technical officer of Alexa International, one of the hottest of the
hot companies, just sold to Amazon.com.
"They have smart people who understand better than almost anybody
else the importance of providing the specific information people need
when they need it. They have been developing online services since
the early 1970s, before almost anyone else was doing it," says
John F. Kelsey III, himself a Dow Jones alumnus, now president of
the Montgomery Commons-based Kelsey Group, a consultant to electronic
and print publishers on opportunities in new information delivery
Allsopp went to Davis & Elkins in West Virginia, Class of 1973, and
has a master’s degree from Penn State in journalism. After being a
reporter at United Press International he spent 17 years at Dow Jones,
where he helped develop Dow Jones News Retrieval, and he was vice
president for U.S sales at Dow Jones Markets/Americas when Telerate
was bought by Bridge Information Services.
"I had no desire to work for Bridge: I wanted to get involved
with a small company, work closer to home, run my own show, and get
an equity stake in the business," says Allsopp, who lives in Pennington
with his wife and their three teenage children.
One of the things we are taking great pains to do is
hire people with professional level journalism experience as our correspondents,"
says Allsopp, "people who have worked for major papers, wire services,
and major magazines, people with a burning desire to break the mold
and develop a new type of journalism. We are making a substantial
investment in high quality people." One of the senior editors
is Rich Heidorn, who for 17 years did investigative reporting and
editing at the Philadelphia Inquirer. The editor of the first service
will be by Orest Mandzy, formerly of the respected newsletter Commercial
"Our domain experts will build our services and provide analysis
of important events and industry trends," says Dunn. "Expert
knowledge and coverage — supplying breaking news and in-depth
research services — that’s what VertiNews is all about."
In charge of advertising is Bernie Turner of the Hopewell-based Dana
Communications (http://www.dananj.com), and one of the attorneys is Frank F. Barr, formerly
of Dow Jones. Groseclose lives in New Mexico but will do stints on
the news desk; Furlong lives in Connecticut but is doing recruiting;
Brady has been handling technology development; and Bill Dunn, says
Allsopp, "provided senior executive guidance."
Running ahead of VertiNews, by four years, is VerticalNet, which has
43 individual group markets grouped by such industries as communications,
environmental, healthcare, and service. It gets half of its income
from $6,000 annual fees for storefronts (one page advertisements with
links that generate sales leads), 45 percent from high-priced buttons
and banners, and five percent from margins on transactions that take
place at the site (http://www.verticalnet.com).
Though VerticalNet has yet to make a profit, it is capitalized to
the tune of $2 billion (trading as VERT on Nasdaq) and, thus encouraged,
other companies are leaping on the vertical market bandwagon. But
Mark Walsh, the founder of the company based in Horsham, Pennsylvania,
says he has a big head start: "We know of nobody else that is
near our breadth or size as a market maker."
Though at first glance the two companies are similar (for instance,
each puts a name brand editor at the top of each page), VerticalNet
has a different business model. As a market maker it puts buyers and
sellers together to earn profits, whereas VertiNews will be a content
provider, and Walsh predicts it will be a successful one.
Says Walsh: "I don’t know of any content-oriented company that
is running a business with content organized by industry as distinctly
as Bill and Charlie are doing." He envisions buying content from
VertiNews and does not expect the Dow Jonesers to intrude on his turf:
"Working for Dow Jones doesn’t mean you are successful as a market
maker; it does mean you can be successful covering the issues that
surround the market."
Will Allsopp, like Walsh, cash in by going public? He hedges: "Number
one, I want us to be a good company, to build something that is sustaining.
If we build a good company good things will happen to us."
— Barbara Fox
Center, Suite I-20, Pennington 08534. William L. Dunn, chairman. 609-730-9268;
fax, 609-730-8652. Home page: http://www.vertinews.com.
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