BW50: Without You, There is No Us

October 24, 2011
by Gregg Castano, President, Business Wire

Gregg Castano, President, Business Wire

As part of Business Wire’s 50th anniversary celebration, Business Wire held a cocktail reception in San Francisco, the city of our founding in 1961, at the Palace Hotel in downtown SF on Thursday, October 13.

I had the honor of delivering brief remarks to the assembled throng of about 200 or so clients, partners, friends and colleagues.  Since we couldn’t invite all of you to this event, I wanted to share the substance of those remarks via this posting, because the sentiments expressed there apply to all Business Wire offices, clients, partners, friends and colleagues worldwide:

Business Wire is really a story of the local kid who made good.  On October 2, 1961, in San Francisco, Business Wire was founded by Lorry I. Lokey, a former journalist and PR professional, and a man with vision, perseverance and a firm belief in an IDEA.  While Lorry may be unfamiliar to many of you of a certain generation and outside of the Bay Area, after the sale of Business Wire to Berkshire Hathaway in 2006, he has gone on to become one of the world’s leading philanthropists and a significant participant in the Warren Buffett-Bill Gates “Giving Pledge” campaign.

Business Wire President Gregg Castano

Gregg Castano addresses attendees of Business Wire's 50th Anniversary event in San Francisco

While we have held similar celebrations across the United States this month in honor of our 50th anniversary, including ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 30th with Warren Buffett, the simple fact that this celebration was being held in San Francisco made it a unique and poignant event for us – because this is where it all began. In fact, in another indication of our deep San Francisco roots, our current CEO, Cathy Baron Tamraz, began her Business Wire career as an editor in our San Francisco office more years ago than she will permit me to divulge.  And though based in New York, Cathy still maintains an oft-visited office in our co-Headquarters on Montgomery Street in the SF financial district. As the icing on the cake, in recognition of those humble SF beginnings and what ensued over the next half century, the Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, officially proclaimed Oct 2 to be Business Wire Day in that city.

So how did we get from there – October 2, 1961 – to here?

Without embarking on a Business Wire 101 history lesson, let’s just say that from Day 1, Business Wire was imbued with the spirit with which we were founded. One that enabled us to defy long odds to grow from a tiny local Bay Area experiment to a global leader in the communications industry, which became so accomplished that it attracted the attention of the world’s most respected investor, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett.

Throughout the years, that spirit has driven us to be disruptors (the good kind), first movers and innovators in a highly competitive environment in which change is rapid, unforgiving and inexorable.

Here are just a few examples of this:

  • Business Wire was the first newswire to transmit releases via satellite, rather than teletype, which at the time was revolutionary.
  • While, unlike Al Gore, we didn’t actually invent the Internet, we did figure out some pretty good uses for it. Such as:
  1. We were the first wire with its own website.
  2. We were the first wire to send news simultaneously to both the media and the investment community in the wake of Reg FD.
  3. We were the first – and only – wire to be awarded both a US and Canadian patent for our Internet-based news delivery platform – N/X.
  4. And for good measure, we also were recently awarded a patent for our Search Engine Optimization technology.

While technology is at the heart of Business Wire, we’ve always recognized that its soul is our people.  We know that people are the keys to success and the ones who establish and perpetuate any company’s reputation. So we take great care in selecting people who represent the values we most cherish – knowledgeable and people-oriented men and women who possess an abundance of honesty, integrity, professionalism and a customer-first attitude.

When you combine folks with those characteristics with our technological prowess and a passion for breaking new ground, you get success.  You get – Business Wire.

However, there is an additional, essential piece to this puzzle.  It’s YOU, our customers and business partners.  We know that without you, there is no Us.

So the recent celebration in San Francisco, and elsewhere, wasn’t just the marking of a milestone in the passage of time, but was also a commemoration of a tremendously successful, 50 year long partnership between Business Wire, its customers and its business partners.

We thank you all for being part of this fabulous 50 year ride – and we hope you will be with us for the next 50!


BW Fun Fact: Business Wire Has Gone From 1 1/4 to 500+ Employees in 50 Years

March 4, 2011

BW founder & original employee Lorry Lokey

Business Wire opened its doors for business on October 2, 1961. At that time, there were 1 1/4 employees (founder Lorry Lokey was the full timer) and one office (in San Francisco) that has been described as the size of a broom closet. We didn’t open another office (Los Angeles) until 1967 & employed just 15 people at the end of the 1960s.

Today, Business Wire boasts more than 500 employees in 32 bureaus around the world, including 21 newsrooms staffed with the most accurate editors in the industry. We’ve definitely come a long way in 50 years!


Business Wire Gives Back for 50th Anniversary

February 15, 2011

In the grand tradition of our founder, Lorry Lokey, & of course, Warren Buffett, chairman of our parent company Berkshire Hathaway, this year, Business Wire is giving back to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

We are setting a goal of 5,000 hours of community service for our 500+ employees in 2011. Each employee will given up to 12 hours of paid time off to volunteer at the nonprofit of their choice, with the goal that together, we can give back at least 5,000 hours to the communities in all 32 markets where we have local bureaus. In addition, Business Wire will continue to match charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations, as it has done for more than 10 years.

We are proud to be following in the footsteps of Warren Buffett, who is a founder of The Giving Pledge, along with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Founded in 2010, The Giving Pledge encourages wealthy individuals worldwide to give the majority of their fortunes back to society. Our founder, Lorry Lokey, is also part of The Giving Pledge, and has already demonstrated a tradition of giving, particularly to education.

All of us here at Business Wire hope to uphold their example as we celebrate our 50 years of service to the communications industry this year. Be sure to check back here and at our Facebook page for updates throughout the year on our progress toward 5,000 hours given back!


Business Wire Founder Lorry Lokey Rises to the Billionaire Challenge

August 10, 2010

Lorry Lokey, who founded Business Wire in 1962, has always been a believer in the virtues of charity and philanthropy. Over the years, he’s given hundreds of millions of dollars, primarily to secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, and he’s frequently appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as both an interview subject and one of America’s Top Donors.

So it’s no surprise that Lorry has risen to the challenge — the Billionaire Challenge, posed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to America’s richest people, to give half of their wealth to good causes. Lorry is one of the 38 people (so far) on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans to make such a commitment.

Lorry recently appeared on CNN’s “American Morning” to discuss his signing on to the pledge, and his thoughts about philanthropy and giving. Watch the interview here or read a transcript here.


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