News & Announcements

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined Don and Audible employees on March 4 at Fresh Coast, a popular restaurant with employees, to mark the 30,000th visit by Audible’s weekly lunch program aimed at supporting neighborhood businesses.

Every Wednesday, hundreds of Audible employees receive a $15 voucher card that can be used at 22 local restaurants participating in Lunch Out Wednesday. The program, launched in 2017, has seen 90% employee participation and injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Newark economy.

Audible will soon leverage the technology of MoCaFi, a Newark Venture Partners portfolio company, to provide a card services program that will seamlessly execute transactions with each participating restaurant’s point-of-sale system and expand the list of participating restaurants.

Read more about the event and Lunch Out Wednesday here.

While the Newark office is closed in response to the coronavirus, Audible will continue to support Newark small businesses and the local community during the shutdown by providing our Lunch Out Wednesday restaurants with ongoing financial support matching their average weekly revenue from Audible.

The Ralph Ellison Foundation presented Don with the 2020 Shadow and Act Award for “outstanding service in the spirit of Ellison’s legacy” at its annual gala in Oklahoma City on Feb. 29.

Ellison, author of Invisible Man, mentored Don as an undergraduate at New York University, encouraging him as he pursued a 20-year writing career, and Ellison’s understanding of the power of the oral tradition informed the vision and mission of Audible from the beginning, Don told the audience at the Oklahoma History Center.

“My experience of him up close when I was young is a testament to the profound, even defining impact a teacher can have on the course of a life,” Don said.

Read his remarks here.

Newark Venture Partners, the venture capital firm Don founded, presented its latest class of startups at Audible’s recently opened Innovation Cathedral.

The seven companies, which include six founders of color and one Newark resident founder, represent the fund’s efforts to attract cutting-edge tech companies to grown Newark’s tech ecosystem.

“Everyone loves a comeback story, and Newark has a great one.” Don said to investors, community members and government leaders. “The vision for Newark Venture Partners posited that old-fashioned capitalistic, measurable upside could create shareable wealth in the challenged urban core. Twenty-one of [NVP’s] companies have a presence in Newark, with 12 headquartered in the city and growing up here. This while academic analyses indicate that for each tech job in a changing neighborhood like ours in Newark three service-level economy and two professional jobs are spawned.”

Eliana Pintor Marin, an assemblywoman representing Newark and chair of the Assembly’s budget committee, highlighted her proposal for a $25-million state investment in NVP’s second fund, which is seeking to raise $100 million.

Read more about NVP’s 7th Demo Day and the companies presented on NVP’s blog.

 

In a special three-day performance in January, Common at the Minetta Lane: A Journey Through Lyrics & Life at the Minetta Lane Theatre delivered an intimate expression of art, culture and verse that called forth the spirit and legacy of artists, thinkers and heroes who have informed Common’s own creative vision, such as James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rakim and Melle Mel.

“Common’s inspiring work has called attention to the inequalities and injustices in our society, from his influential albums Can I Borrow a Dollar? and Be, to his Grammy Award-winning collaborations with Erykah Badu and Kanye West, to his and John Legend’s Oscar-winning song ‘Glory’ from the movie Selma,’ Don wrote in the program. “Tonight, you will experience Common’s meditation on the complexities of fatherlessness, art, masculinity and black consciousness.”

Below, Don joins Common, Whoopi Goldberg and Ron Howard backstage.

Media and tech executive Bob Carrigan joined Audible on Jan. 2 as CEO reporting to Don, who is now executive chairman of Audible.

Don will work closely with Bob on overarching strategies as Bob takes over responsibility for global business operations. Don will also focus on Audible’s global content strategy and extensive social and public policy objectives in Newark and other locations.

“Bob Carrigan is among the most accomplished, creative, intellectually adept, and inspirational CEOs I have watched succeed over my twenty years of studying and chronicling businesses and my twenty-four years leading Audible,” Don said in the press release. “I have watched him positively disrupt institutional status quos to measurable and lasting effect. I could not be more thrilled that the stars have aligned to allow him to join the Audible adventure full-time.”

Bob joins Audible after a 20-year career that spans positions as Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, CEO of IDG and a senior executive at AOL. Bob most recently served as the Executive Chairman of Genscape.

NJBIZ’s named Don No. 7 on its Power 100 list, citing his role as founder of Newark Venture Partners, the venture capital firm and accelerator that has attracted dozens of startups to Newark’s growing tech ecosystem.

Katz is the executive chairman of Audible, one of Newark’s most prominent corporate citizens. But Katz’s influence extends further. He is also the founder of Newark Venture Partners, which has invested $26 million in 74 technology companies that employ a total of 500 people. Executives of technology companies said these businesses bring high-paying jobs to New Jersey.

Don was joined by some of India’s best-known actors, writers, directors and comedians for the launch of Audible Suno last week at Famous Studios in Mumbai.

Audible Suno, coming a year after Audible expanded its premium service to India, offers Indian listeners hundreds of hours of original and exclusive spoken-word content for free, with no payment, ads or sign-in. The programs span comedy, horror, spirituality, romance and other genres, and are created by some of India’s biggest talent, including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tabu, Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Vir Das and Abish Mathew.

“We are so proud of the power of the performed words that are inside Audible Suno and the many more original programs to come,” Don said before the actors, writers, directors, producers and journalists at the studio.

Read more in Economic Times.

 

Don with Nawazuddin Siddiqui at the Audible Suno launch in Mumbai

In an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine‘s podcast “The Playbook with David Meltzer,” Don discusses his journey from journalist to leading Audible at scale, the lessons learned along the way, and Audible’s commitment to Newark.

I tried in two careers to pursue meaning. How can a company pursue a sense of what a company means in ways that transcends what it does? That’s why we are here in Newark. That’s why a whole part of our company is engaged with trying to create urban equality where there is inequality, in a completely different way by moving to the city. That’s why we continue to push the envelope on the next generation of written-to-the-form and created-to-the-form audio that makes people happier, that makes them more successful.

 

“CBS This Morning” interviewed Don for a November 9 segment on Audible’s recently opened Innovation Cathedral, spotlighting the company’s 12-year focus on Newark’s turnaround.

“Everyone in America loves a comeback story. Being part of it actually has a real lot of meaning,” Don said. “The fact that so many people want to work here is justification enough to continue to try to help the city.”

The piece highlighted Audible’s commercialization of the first digital audio player and Project Listen Up, which provides all Newark Public Schools students and teachers a free year of Audible listening. Customer care agent Aiyonnah Post spoke to CBS about finding a job at Audible after living in a local homeless shelter, and the segment also included Nicole Ransome, a Newark native and former high school intern who now works on Audible’s content team.

“They help me shape my future now by investing in their training, their hiring, their programs,” Post said. “Everything they’ve done has helped me achieve what I am today.”

 

Don paid tribute to the Ironbound Community Corporation’s longtime executive director at the community organization’s 50th anniversary gala on Oct. 24 as Don was honored for Audible’s commitment to Newark.

“Few people I’ve known or observed traveling the world as a journalist for 20 years have exemplified missionary public leadership — moral leadership that does not just call out immoralities without fiercely pursuing solutions — than does Joe Della Fave,” Don said in his remarks. “Joe is a change-maker. If you are at all interested in civics or political science, take look at the 22-year fight Joe led to clean up an unconscionably dangerous stretch of river and create Riverside Park. Joe has heart as big as the Ironbound.”

The other honorees were Newark Councilman Augusto Amador; Aisha Glover, President & CEO of the Newark Alliance; and Roger Leon, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools.

Don and Joe Della Fave (Executive Director of the Ironbound Community Corporation) among the Honorees at the 50th Anniversary Gala