The Daily Voice (U.S. hyperlocal news)
|Headquarters||Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.|
|Area served||Fairfield County, Connecticut
Westchester County, New York
|Founder(s)||Carll Tucker, Chair|
|Key people||Zohar Yardeni, CEO (Resigned March 2013)|
|Services||Online community news|
|Alexa rank||47,568 (March 2014[update])|
|Type of site||Local News|
The Daily Voice, formerly Main Street Connect, is an American community journalism company specializing in hyperlocal media, that is located in Norwalk, Connecticut, and currently operates several town-based news web sites in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York.
Founding and initial history
The company was founded in 2010 by Carll Tucker, a veteran of the community news business with Trader Publications (sold to Gannett Company in 1999), who described his new approach as a hybrid of The New York Times and Facebook. The company raised almost $4 million in its first round of private equity funding, an amount which made news in the journalism industry. The company's editorial director was financial commentator and author Jane Bryant Quinn, who is also a member of its board of directors. Others associated with the company included Peter Georgescu, former CEO of the marketing and communications company Young & Rubicam, and John Falcone, former executive with mobile advertising company SmartReply.
Main Street Connect first appeared as town-centric news sites in Fairfield County, Connecticut, named "The Daily <town>", such as the first one, The Daily Norwalk for Norwalk, Connecticut (where the company is based). Ten such sites were in operation by the end of 2010, compared to a stated original goal of fifty. Main Street Connect had 44 full-time employees as of mid-2010.
The franchising structure of Main Street Connect was explicitly likened to that of the McDonald's fast food chain. It was intended to work via a local group hiring journalists to cover a community, with the national entity supplying a framework for website technical hosting and support, working capital, and guidance related to fundamental business strategies. There was to be no start-up fee, and Main Street Connect would get 17 percent of a site's revenue. The eventual goal was to provide an attractive platform for national brands to advertise on, and to support a higher advertising rate than local websites can typically charge and one that it closer to the level that used to support local print newspapers. The company's target for 2013 was to have 3,000 sites operating with some 10,000–15,000 journalists involved; existing community newspapers were not seen as potential franchisees. The long-term sustainability of Tucker's business model, and his vision of Main Street Connect "helping to rebuild a profession", attracted some skepticism from the Columbia Journalism Review, which also found most of the editorial content of the early Connecticut sites uncompelling, albeit presented in a colorful and exciting manner.
Main Street Connect's start coincided with a renewed interest in local advertising among national companies. It competed most prominently another national-local combination, AOL's Patch.com, but took a slower approach than Patch in rolling out new sites. It also competed with news aggregators such as Topix, event aggregators such as Eventful, and content creation sites such as Examiner.com and Yahoo's Associated Content.
In February 2011, it announced that the one million mark in visits to Main Street Connect websites had been passed, and subsequently said that the sites get about 110,000 unique visitors per month against an underlying population of some 420,000 people. By March 2011, the franchising model was de-emphasized by Tucker, who instead spoke of opening "pods" of about ten sites each. The company said it would launch three pods totaling 31 sites in Westchester County, New York on June 1, and Tucker said, "We are hiring like crazy." Tucker said they were seeking a national partner for 2012; stated goals for 2014 were now even loftier than the previous goals for 2013. In May 2011, Main Street Connect acquired CentralMassNews, which owned ten local news sites in Central Massachusetts. On June 1, 2011, the company rolled out 32 (one more than expected) sites in Westchester.
In October 2011, Tucker was replaced as CEO by Zohar Yardeni, formerly of Thomson Reuters and a couple of financial and information start-ups. Tucker stayed on as chair of the company. Main Street Connect also obtained $7 million in second round funding at the time. Total sites in October 2011 numbered 52.
In May 2012, the company rebranded themselves to become The Daily Voice. Aside from the new name and logo, there were no other changes to business operations. The new name was purchased by Main Street Connect, and therefore was no longer affiliated with Keith Boykin or Malcolm J. Harris, the figures behind the 2008-begun The Daily Voice onsite news site for African Americans.
In March 2013, Yardeni suddenly resigned. The company underwent a major downsizing, closing all eleven of its Massachusetts sites and laying off those employees. Significant layoffs took place in the Connecticut and New York operations as well, which were highlighted by an email sent to employees by Tucker promising "good" news.
- "Dailyvoice.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
- Kaplan, David (June 1, 2010). "Hyperlocal Network Mainstreet Connect Raises $3.97 Million First Round". PaidContent. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Tucker, Carll (April 26, 2010). "Why I Started a Business in a Dying Industry". BNET (CBS Interactive). Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- McGann, Laura (May 25, 2010). "Borrowing from burgers: franchise-model startup wants to make community news sites profitable". Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Kirchner, Lauren (July 13, 2010). "On Hyperlocals, Hyper-hiring, and Hype". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Cohen, David (May 19, 2010). "Main Street Connect Expands, Names Board". Mediabistro.com. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Fitzgerald, Mark (July 2010). "McHyperlocal: A Plan to Franchise Community News". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Krasilovsky, Peter (May 4, 2010). "NY-Area’s ‘Main Street Connect’ Takes Aim at Hyperlocal (Too)". BIA Kelsey. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "About Us". Main Street Connect. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Krewson, Andria (May 17, 2010). "Networks Aim to Solve Local Ad Puzzle for Hyper-Local Sites". MediaShift (PBS). Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- Oliver, Laura (July 7, 2010). "'We're helping to rebuild a profession': Hyperlocal network founder aims for 3,000 sites". Journalism.co.uk.
- Behling, Ellie (March 16, 2011). "Main Street Connect goes after Patch". eMedia Vitals. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
- "Main Street Connect Passes 1,000,000th Visit" (Press release). Editor & Publisher. February 9, 2011.
- "Main Street Connect Announces 31 New Sites in Westchester County, N.Y." (Press release). Editor & Publisher. March 3, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
- Tartakoff, Joseph (May 19, 2011). "Hyperlocal Network Main Street Connect Buys CentralMassNews". PaidContent. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- "Main Street Connect Raises $7 Million and Appoints Zohar Yardeni as CEO" (Press release). PR Newswire. October 31, 2011.
- Staff Report (May 25, 2012). "We're Now The Daily Voice, Norwalk". The Daily Voice. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- "Contact Us". The Daily Voice. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- Ferrari, Jerrod (March 4, 2013). "Daily Voice closes Mass. sites, lays off some in Connecticut and New York". The Hour.
- Bird Jr., Walter (March 4, 2013). "Daily Voice shutting down Mass. sites". Worcester Magazine.