Bell Works-based company, supported by NJ-based investors, is staying in New Jersey
Roy LaManna and his cofounder Mark Allen birthed his New Jersey-based tech company Vydia in 2013, two years after NJTechWeekly.com began publishing.
LaManna’s original mission, as we understand it, was to develop a tech platform that would allow underserved music artists and creators to distribute their music and be better paid for it. At the time, there wasn’t much of a tech ecosystem in the state, but LaManna and Allen pursued their dream.
Vydia met with some skepticism, as New Jersey wasn’t then (and isn’t now) a hotbed of music industry activity. Yet, the duo kept going. LaManna became the CEO, spokesperson and chief promoter of Vydia. His vision was respected by investors who helped support the company.
Allen joined LaManna as his technical cofounder, and built the initial version of the Vydia platform, which brought the company from the concept stage to $1 million in revenues in the first year. He now serves as the team’s principal engineer, working with a growing team of software developers to continuously optimize and scale the technology.
Since its founding, Vydia has evolved, developing more robust offerings. A few years ago, the company closed down its “open platform” for all creators in order to focus on servicing music businesses and independent labels. Vydia’s B2B strategy allowed the team to build tools and infrastructure that leveled the playing field and allowed independent labels to have access to the same resources that previously required major label support.
In early March, it was revealed that Vydia had been sold in December. The buyer is an extremely well-financed ($1 billion) California startup called gamma that was founded by Apple Music’s former global creative director, Larry Jackson, and veteran music exec Ike Youssef.
It is fitting that gamma’s mission is very similar to Vydia’s. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, as is often the case with strategic buyers, but investors we spoke to told us that they were “very happy” with the financial outcome of the deal.
For NJTechWeekly.com, what is important about this deal is that Vydia is a uniquely New Jersey story. Here are some facts:
- The company is staying in New Jersey.
- LaManna is a New Jersey leader who attended Brookdale Community College.
- Allen was educated at Brookdale Community College and NJIT.
- Vydia’s new co-presidents, Jenna Gaudio and Mark Gorman, both graduated from Monmouth University.
- Most of the company’s workforce is in New Jersey.
- Many of Vydia’s initial investors were New Jersey-based, including Tech Council Ventures, Newark Venture Partners and Jay Bhatti.
- Over the years, the company has received support from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
- Vydia is located at Bell Works (Holmdel), the former Bell Labs workplace that has been reimagined as a 21st-century tech hub.
Here are some important points about the sale for NJTechWeekly.com readers:
- Vydia’s cofounder and CEO, Roy LaManna, joins gamma’s executive team as chief technology and product officer.
- Gaudio, who was Vydia’s COO, and Gorman, who was SVP of label and artist relations at Vydia, will also be elevated to co-presidents of distribution at gamma.
- Whether an artist is interested in recording and distributing an album, composing new music, producing short or long-form visual content, developing a podcast or launching a consumer products business, gamma supports its creators with the means and resources to execute their vision.
- gamma acquired Vydia in December to provide content creators with the unfettered ability to publish and distribute audiovisual content on a global basis.
- Based on cutting-edge music technology and infrastructure, Vydia provides its creators with rights-management services, advanced payments, transparent and automated royalty accounting and daily performance analytics to help amplify the artist’s reach. gamma recognizes that content creators can now impact culture and commerce more than ever. Through direct engagement with their fans and a global reach that no longer relies on traditional advertising, artists are developing direct fan connectivity that extends beyond an album or film. They can now build their direct-to-consumer and retail businesses on their own terms, in a manner that rewards the value that they are creating.
- Key initiatives at gamma, which will be distributed by Vydia, currently include Snoop Dogg and his Death Row catalog, Usher, Rick Ross and Naomi Campbell.