Incorporated in Virginia in January 2001 and started as a fulltime business in April 2001.
The company is operated by Gordon Borrell, founder and CEO, and three key executives: Colby Atwood, president of the company; Peter Conti Jr., executive vice president of sales and marketing; and Kip Cassino, executive vice president of research.
Its first employees were Mike Donatello, a former research director for The Washington Post, and Peter Krasilovsky, a consultant in Washington, D.C., both of whom joined the company at the outset. Conti, a former interactive manager for Media General Inc. in Richmond, and Atwood, a sales and product development executive for various new media companies, joined the company in late 2001. Donatello and Krasilovsky left the company in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
The company's first client was Fort Wayne Newspapers.
Its first research project was survey of 3,000 newspaper Web site visitors asking whether they'd pay to access local news content on the World Wide Web. Overwhelmingly, they said no. The report was published in November 2001.
The company acquired Ad Audit Services from Kip Cassino, a former research director for Knight Ridder and E.W. Scripps Co., in August 2006 for an undisclosed seven-figure price. Ad Audit Services furnished local ad-spending data to media companies. Upon the acquisition, Cassino joined the company fulltime as vice president of research.
The company's motto is "Tomorrow's media, understood today." Its hallmark is its understanding of disruptive technology and its affect on local media. Its landmark project was undertaken in 2002-2003 as a joint applied research project with Clark G. Gilbert, an associate professor in Harvard Business School's Entrepreneurial Unit. The project worked with five newspaper companies -- Tribune, Knight Ridder, Belo Corp., Media General and Copley Newspapers -- studying their organizational structure and the sources of Internet revenue. It concluded that the companies were tackling the Internet similarly to other incumbent industries that had been faced with disruptive technologies and warned that "pure-play" Internet ventures would severely erode both their core and "new media" revenues. The year after the study was completed, the U.S. newspaper industry held a 44% share of all locally spent Internet advertising; by 2010, that share had slipped to 23%, while locally-focused pure-play companies increased their share from 21% to 50% in the same time frame.