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It started as an idea near the end of 2010. Maria Ressa and Beth Frondoso started trying to imagine how television would change in a participatory age. Then one night over drinks, Maria and Glenda Gloria tried to answer big questions. How will journalism change? How can citizens participate? How can this be used for larger positive goals? How can all that strengthen democracy? They continued their conversations and included Chay Hofileña, Gemma Mendoza, Marites Vitug and Cheche Lazaro to help imagine a multi-media experience. They tried to imagine the world as it could be, incorporating all the possibilities technology now makes possible.
Maria proposed joining forces with Newsbreak, a decade-old company headed by Glenda & Marites, and merging it with television created for Internet & mobile devices, Beth’s expertise. They would form a new company that would go beyond journalism and close the loop on crowdsourcing experiments.
They got excited.
Maria tapped an old friend: ex-Prober, former media executive, banker and now Internet entrepreneur Manny Ayala. They discussed the nuts and bolts of setting up a company, dealing with valuation, tapping the global venture capitalist community. Manny is involved with a company called Hatchd, which was created by Internet entrepreneurs to help incubate promising online businesses. Maria presented to Hatchd and brought them into the brainstorming sessions.
Maria called another old friend: regional media executive Raymund Miranda, who was just about to leave NBCUniversal and was setting up a new media company he would call Dolphin Fire. They had avid discussions in Singapore, where both were living in 2011. Raymund brought marketing and sales expertise — management experience which strengthened the team’s global view. They believed the next big idea could come from anywhere around the world so they benchmarked against global standards.
They got even more excited.
Together, the team created a business plan and solidified its vision. The debates were raucous, spine-tingling, exciting.
They formalized their relationships, bringing together 3 groups behind Rappler — Newsbreak, Hatchd and Dolphin Fire. Funding for the start-up with big dreams was brought in by these groups and Maria.
Because of who they are, they embedded a key tenet in Rappler’s DNA: the supremacy of editorial independence.
They began to think of how to revamp existing advertising models — moving away from cpms and banner advertising, vestiges of traditional media dominance. Maria took terrorism research and mapping and applied the ideas to business intelligence and social media tracking. Underpinning all of it is real world social network theory.
Rappler is our generation’s response to all the societal problems each member of the team had long tried to fight alone.
Rappler’s board members represent all its shareholders.
Here are the members of Rappler’s board.
1. Manny Ayala, Chairman of the Board
Manny is a managing director at IRG Ltd, a HK-based boutique investment bank. He spearheads IRG’s media practice, covering a variety of sectors including wireless content, Internet, television and online gaming. Manny has led the sale of various digital media assets including the leading online classified portals in Malaysia and the Philippines, the largest online gaming company in Brazil and a top mobile content company in the Philippines.
Manny was the number two executive at Discovery Networks Asia, where he oversaw Strategic Planning, Programming, On-Air Branding and Program Sales. He was instrumental in building Discovery Channel and Animal Planet into top-rated TV channels across the region. Before joining Discovery, Manny was deputy general manager for TNT and Cartoon Network Asia, an AOL Time Warner TV channel, where he was a key member of the team that launched the service across the Asia Pacific. Prior to that, Manny worked for STAR TV where he was part of the team that acquired the Don Bluth Animation Studio as well as a number of the world’s key Chinese-language film libraries.
Manny has an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business and a BA, cum laude, from Yale University.
2. Maria Ressa, President
Maria has been a journalist in Asia for more than 25 years, most of them as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila then Jakarta. She became CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism networks and wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia in 2003. The book was the first from the region documenting the growth of Jemaah Islamiyah and its links to al-Qaeda.
Maria has worked for every major television network in the Philippines and was one of the founders of independent production company, Probe. In 2005, she became the senior vice-president of ABS-CBN’s news group, heading the largest multi-platform news operation in the Philippines. For 6 years, she set strategic direction, ran training programs for more than 1,000 journalists and helped put together a comprehensive standards & ethics manual. She streamlined workflows and helped increase the group’s gross profit rate from 54% to 70%.
Maria taught courses in politics and media for her alma mater, Princeton University, and in broadcast principles at the University of the Philippines. Her upcoming book, From Bin Laden to Facebook, is part of her work as author-in-residence and senior fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore.
3. Glenda Gloria, Vice President
Glenda took up journalism during the Marcos years. Revolutions and transitions shaped her career and temperament as a journalist. She worked for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and for international news agencies. In the dying days of the Estrada administration, she co-founded Newsbreak, which started as a weekly news magazine and became one of the Philippines’ leading investigative reporting organizations.
From 2008 to January 2011, she managed ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, as its chief operating officer. Under her management, ANC grew its revenues 400% and acted as the harbinger of new initiatives for the ABS-CBN news group. She played a key role in harnessing social media for the network’s 2010 election coverage.
Glenda now manages the Rappler newsroom, merging traditional journalism with innovative crowd-sourcing social media techniques. The books she’s written include Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao with Marites Dañguilan-Vitug, a groundbreaking book on the conflict in Mindanao that won the National Book Award. In 2011, she wrote The Enemy Within: An Inside Story on Military Corruption with Aries Rufo and Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza.
Glenda earned her journalism degree in 1985 at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. A British Chevening scholar, she holds a master’s degree in political sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
4. Raymund Miranda, Treasurer
Raymund has been an Asia-Pacific media executive and strategist for more than 28 years. He is Chairman/CEO of Dolphin Fire Group, Inc. and President of Flux Design Labs. He also consults for various local and international media clients. In mid-2012, he became CSO of ABS-CBN.
Raymund served as the Managing Director, Global Networks Asia-Pacific from 2007 to 2011, heading the entertainment channels division of NBC Universal across 33 countries. Before that, Raymund spent a year in Manila as the President/CEO of Nation Broadcasting Corporation (92.3xFM) and Head of Strategy and Content for Mediaquest Holdings, Inc.
From 1998 to 2006, Raymund was with The Walt Disney Company in Singapore and Manila as Managing Director South East Asia for Walt Disney International, Managing Director for South East Asia/Korea for Walt Disney Television International and the Head of Radio Disney Asia. He started his career in FM radio before joining the GMA Network group in 1987. He was named Vice-President, Creative Services of GMA Network, Inc. in 1992.
Raymund has served on the Council of Governors of CASBAA (Cable and Satellite Broadcasters’ Association of Asia) and on the International Committee of PROMAX International. He was Vice Chairman of PROMAX Asia in 1996. He has sat as a juror in the International Digital Emmys, Promax Asia, Promax International and the Asian Television Awards.
5. Nix Nolledo
Nix is the youngest of our board members, but that may just make him the most attuned to the signs of the times. He’s a digital entrepreneur with businesses in mobile applications, web marketing and e-commerce.
He’s the CEO of Xurpas, Inc., a large mobile content provider which develops mobile marketing programs and applications for several telecommunications firms in the Philippines as well as other emerging markets. He is also the co-founder of pinoyexchange.com, one of the country’s largest online communities.
He is a founding director of the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) and the Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM). He is also a member of the Philippine chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
Nix graduated with a business degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and was selected as one of the top 50 entrepreneurs in the Philippines by Entrepreneur Magazine.