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Industry Insight

The Future of WhatTheyThink

By Adam Dewitz
Published: April 11, 2014

On Wednesday we announced that Randy was leaving WhatTheyThink to focus on a hyperlocal business network called Georgia CEO. This has been in the planning stage for some time and the core team at WhatTheyThink (Randy, Eric, Cory and myself) all agreed that the timing was right with the growth that is occurring in the Georgia CEO startup. We had considered releasing this at the beginning of the month. However given our history of April Fools hijinks that timing was quickly scrapped.

I've spent a lot of time since the announcement talking to our sponsors and members. The support has been encouraging. I've also received feedback that our press release did not do a good enough job to position this announcement as a mutual departure and left room for speculation.

I understand that many in our community find Randy's departure sudden which fuels speculation. Lesson learned: anytime you make an announcement like this people will try to read more into it. Speculation is a fun pastime. Some of the blame is ours. Business PR so often uses "other opportunities" as a euphemism to cover up dysfunction. We probably should have been more careful in our word choices.

As I've talked to the community I provided historical context that helps clarify Randy's departure. I'll share that here:

In 2010 Randy started looking at hyperlocal news - at the time this was the latest trend in how to save the local newspaper (the new trend is to be bought by billionaires). Randy's approach to hyperlocal was to focus on local business communities. Business news and information was an area of coverage that many newspapers were abandoning to focus on more profitable sections like sports and general community news and events. To test this idea, he used his hometown of Albany GA with the launch of AlbanyCEO.com

In 2011 Randy, Eric, Cory, Vince, Dr. Joe, and I started working on a larger scale version of the concept with a target of providing coverage in 210 cities across the U.S. We built the technical platform and started seeking funding to scale the operational side of the business. We were unable to secure funding to support the scale we thought was required so we pivoted. That pivot is what Georgia CEO is today.

(Full disclosure: I own shares in Georgia CEO and serve as a paid advisor)

So that brings us to today. Georgia CEO is growing and requires Randy's attention to take it to the next level.

I've been made aware of a campaign to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the future of WhatTheyThink. Sorry, doubters. We're not going anywhere.

WhatTheyThink has not been just Randy for a long time. One of Randy's biggest accomplishments with WhatTheyThink was bringing together the greatest group of people possible to provide market intelligence on the printing industry (I was fortunate to immediately join WhatTheyThink upon graduation from RIT in 2007). Sure, we've had our ups and downs in the rocky economy of the past few years. Not many in this industry haven't.

Our commitment is to aggressively continue to provide market intelligence the industry can depend on and to continue to innovate as we strive to serve the industry we all love.



By Charles Gehman on Apr 11, 2014

Randy is the consummate entrepreneur, obviously very hard working, tenacious, and a very good salesman! He's shared many, many ideas with me since I've known him. It's no surprise that this idea has enough traction that he needs to devote his full energy to it!

In fact, I can practically hear his voice in my head from the first time I spoke with him on the phone, back during the DAX days (i.e., 1990s!) In those days, the old media you (no doubt among some of the doubters you allude to) dominated. In the time since, Whattheythink has become the premier source of news and insight in the industry.

I expect it to continue to be the source I refer to FIRST EVERY DAY until print ceases to exist. And you can ask Frank Romano when that will be!

Wishing the team all the best, and continued loyalty!


By Eric Vessels on Apr 14, 2014

Thanks Chuck! You've been a great supporter and someone we've turned to often to bounce ideas off of. We'll do our best to live up to the challenge you just presented. ;-)


By Steven Schnoll on Apr 14, 2014

As an early adviser to whattheythink in its start up days I can speak highly of Randy's entrepreneurial spirit. He has accomplished a great deal with whattheythink and has set the online news standard for our industry. I recently spoke to Randy about his new venture and know he will bring the same enthusiasm, passion and intellect to the Georgia CEO enterprise. Eric you have a great team I know you will have continued success.


By John Henry on Apr 14, 2014

I wish Randy good luck and just as glad to see WTT will be around for a long time.


By Harvey Hirsch on Apr 14, 2014

As one of your early associates I have found WhatTheyThink to be essential in delivering to me current information on this steadily shrinking industry on a daily basis. Randy, I am sure will still submit a piece or two as it swims passed his purview and the rest of you will add your insights as well. Good luck.


By Rossitza Sardjeva on Apr 15, 2014

I hope that WTT will continue to provide market intelligence the industry can depend on and to continue to innovate as it will have to be. Good luck to WTT!


By Katherine on Apr 15, 2014

Having being down a similar path in years past you have my sympathy. Randy is far from a one-man band--he has done what many managers struggle to do--put in an excellent team and let them flourish.

All the best to Randy and the WTT crew,



By Eric Vessels on Apr 15, 2014

Thanks Steven, John, Harvey, Rossitza, and KOB! Really appreciate your comments.


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