Philly area resident Scallan plays key role at Silicon Valley's high-flying Flipboard

Tom Paine

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Josh Kopelman coined the term "Redeye VC" to describe the bi-coastal nature of his existence managing First Round Capital. Lehigh grad and area native Paul Martino has maintained his residence in Doylestown in spite of the time he spent as co-founder of Aggregate Knowledge (recently acquired for $119 million) and his current position as managing partner with VC firm Bullpen Capital, both based on the west coast. App design guru Loren Brichter maintains a primary residence here while advising west coast firms. And there are other examples.

Greg Scallan / Twitter

One who many may not realize lives in the Philly area is Greg Scallan, Chief Architect for Flipboard, the mobile news reader app platform that just last month confirmed it had raised another $50 million, closing out a Series C round of $100 million, led by Rizvi Traverse Management. Flipboard now says it has 100 million total users, up from 85 million at the time the first half of the round was announced, and is aiming for 150 million in 2014.

Scallan, who grew up on Staten Island (disclosure: the same place I did, though I didn't know him there - Staten Island is not a small village) received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh. After a few years at IBM and Paper Software, he joined Netscape not long after its famous 1995 IPO. He then served as Chief Architect-VoIP Platform at Tellme Networks, directing development of its Toll Free Directory Assistance service, and joined Microsoft after it acquired Tellme in 2007, leaving in 2009 to start Flipboard along with his long-time associate Mike McCue, Flipboard's CEO, and Evan Doll.

Although Flipboard is based in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto), Scallon told me in a phone interview he maintains his primary residence in the outer western burbs (near Chester Springs) for family reasons, but he spends considerable time on the west coast. He says he simply hasn't had the time to get too involved with the Philly Tech scene, though he would like to attend some of Philly Tech Meetup's events.

Flipboard launched first for the iPad and then the iPhone, but it now a has a significant percentage of Android users and launched an app for Windows Phone in November. Its not clear whether Flipboard will ultimately be more of a content curator, aggregator or publishing platform, though I'd say now its a combination of all three. Scallon says Flipboard and others in the news reading app space are still trying to work out optimal business models for it, and there is frequent discussion ongoing among players in the industry.

Although Flipboard initially may have focused on larger publications (who sold their own ads), it has gradually broadened its base, allowing users to curate their own collections gathered from Flipboard content and encouraging more smaller self-publishers to use its platform. However, the issue of how to help smaller publishers monetize remains.

One new competitor is Medium, founded by Blogger founder and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. Medium favors a more web-based approach versus Flipboard's primarily app-based approach. Another significant competitor could be a Facebook product, reportedly named Paper, which may be introduced in the coming weeks. After selling the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the Graham family holding company relaunched its news reader entrant, Trove.

Scallan says Flipboard is a happy Amazon Web Services user for all of its cloud services, and has no plans to move to more of a hybrid or private cloud architecture.

Update 1/29: Flipboard wants to look more like
traditional magazine

Update 2/4: Facebook's Paper vs. Flipboard: Comparing mobile news apps (Mashable via San Jose Mercury News)

Links 1/23/2014: SAP seen facing difficult challenges ahead

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