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Handmark Creates Subsidiary for Social, Mobile

Wed, 07/13/2011 - 8:58am
Monica Alleven

Handmark is spinning off its social apps business and mobile ad services group to form a wholly owned subsidiary – but it's not revealing the new company's name just yet. It officially launches later this month.

By focusing on social and mobile, Handmark hopes to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. Founded in 2000, the company says it has shown it has the ability to move fast, and given where social networking and mobile apps are at right now, the time is right.

Spinning off the business will allow the group, led by Evan Conway, Handmark's executive vice president of marketing and product development, to focus on the things they need to do. "It really is about focus," says Handmark CEO Paul Reddick. "We have a subsidiary where its total success hinges on this ability to deliver on socially powerful apps and monetize those and don't worry about other functions. We feel it will be that much more successful."

Initially, 25 people will be dedicated to the subsidiary, with personnel based in Kansas City, with increasing presence in Palo Alto, Calif. The same shareholder group owns both entities, but if at some point in the future additional investors are brought in, they'll have a choice as to which one they're buying into, according to Reddick.

Handmark's popular social apps, TweetCaster for Twitter and FriendCaster for Facebook, are top-rated applications on Android and iOS devices and have attracted more than 3 million users. Ownership of those two apps will transfer to the new company. Executives also promise a bevy of new products that will go beyond current social networks.

Conway says they're really marrying at the intersection of social with mobile, two fast-growing segments, with the ability to monetize it. Handmark works with dozens of different mobile ad networks and continues to add more on a regular basis.

They say they're not competing with social networks but will complement them.  There's a high awareness of Twitter in the U.S., but only about 10 percent are using Twitter on an ongoing basis, and Twitter itself has expressed interest in getting more of the "aware" community to be more regular users.

Handmark was founded June 1, 2000, and it's been building apps and distributing them for years – before iOS came along, but if Reddick has heard anything from Apple, which has been on a tear to protect its "App Store" moniker and putting various entities on notice, he's not saying. "We're not going to get hung up on what it's called," he says.

The company will focus on what Handmark calls "socially powered apps" that give mobile users the tools to curate and interact with the social channels and content they care about. It will continue to build an audience across multiple operating systems and provide monetization opportunities for developers.

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