Audible’s commitment to Newark has become a key element of the company’s culture since the 2007 move from suburban Wayne.
“I consider the Newark move one of the best decisions we’ve made as a company,” Don has said. “Conventional wisdom at the time we were contemplating the move indicated that by moving more than 15 miles from Wayne to a city some considered less than safe, we could lose up to 25% of our workforce. In fact, not a single employee left the company because of the move.”
Audible is now the fastest-growing private employer in the city, with more than 1,000 employees in its burgeoning campus in Newark’s north end. Audible is also rehabbing a historic church that closed in 1995 and turning it into a state-of-the-art innovation cathedral that will preserve the organ pipes and iconic stained-glass windows, and will feature a barista, wood-burning pizza oven, bowling alley and basketball court.
Audible employees, as well as the hundreds of actors who record in Audible’s studios, commute to the company’s headquarters from Newark, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all over New Jersey, taking advantage of Newark’s status as a transport hub — Broad Street station, one block away from Audible, is an 18-minute train ride from Midtown Manhattan. A growing number of Audible employees are moving to the developing loft dwellings in Newark neighborhoods. Audible also provides employees tickets to NJPAC events, Devils games and Red Bulls games, and internal wikis track the openings of new restaurants. All of this is part of Audible’s ethos of working, serving, living, and playing in Newark.
Within Audible headquarters, the more than 70 conference rooms are named for significant people and places from Newark’s past and present: Philip Roth, Allen Ginsburg, Queen Latifah, Shaquille O’Neal, and Norman Atkins and James Verrilli, co-founders of North Star Academy.
Audible runs a paid internship, mentorship and college scholarship program for Newark students through a partnership with North Star Academy and Science Park High School. Dozens of students work alongside technologists, English-majors-turned-business-people, data scientists and producers. In 2013, Audible introduced the Reading Pals program, pairing employees with struggling readers at North Star’s middle school, as well as students at Brick Peshine Academy in Newark’s South Ward.
Don has served on the board of Uncommon Schools, the charter school management nonprofit that runs North Star, since the organization was founded in 1997. Audible’s partnership with North Star has become the focus of shared company pride.
Don gave the keynote address at the 2013 Inner City Economic Summit in Cleveland. Don also gave the commencement address at Rutgers-Newark in 2014 and also addressed early-stage tech and urban renaissance at TEDx Navesink in 2015
In the news
- Fast Company (7/13/17): How Audible’s CEO Is Working To Lift Up The City Around The Company’s Office
- NPR (6/5/17): Audible Offers Lottery For Employees To Live 1 Year Rent-Free In Newark, N.J.
- The New York Times (5/26/17): Work for Audible, Live Rent-Free?
- Urban Agenda Magazine (February 2017): The Spoken Word With Audible Founder & CEO Donald Katz
- TEDx Talks (4/28/15): Early-stage Tech and Urban Renaissance | Don Katz
- The Star-Ledger (2/11/14): Audible’s Katz to chair Brick City Development Corp.
- The Star-Ledger (12/8/13): Meet Don Katz, the visionary CEO of Audible
- NJTV (6/28/13): Interview on “One-on-One with Steve Adubato”
- The Star-Ledger (4/7/13): The key to much-needed job growth in Newark: Opinion