For D.C. native Mark Ein, the District’s tech scene has always been his bread and butter.
Ein grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, left the region briefly to attend the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Business School and later returned for what is now a 25-year career both launching businesses and investing in them.
He’s the founder and owner of the Washington Kastles, the District’s tennis team. Ein is the name behind Kastle Systems, a security system for commercial office buildings, and Venturehouse Group, his investment holding group based in Chinatown. In all, Ein has been involved from the founding or early stages of six companies that ended up being worth over $1 billion and has led over $1.5 billion in private equity, venture capital and public company investments.
All this to say, Ein didn’t take his purchase of alt-weekly newspaper Washington City Paper lightly. At the end of December, right after reports that the WCP staff would have to take pay cuts, Ein swooped in and purchased the paper.
“I really think that journalists are saving our world right now,” Ein said in an interview. “They are speaking truth to power, they are shining lights on things that otherwise would never see the light of day.”
For Ein, he was thinking a lot about how he could support local journalism — and it helped that WCP has an alumni group that looks like a “Journalism Hall of Fame,” he said. Alumni include Jake Tapper, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kara Swisher.
Now that he’s the owner Ein said the company plans to hire more journalists and focus on entities that have long been ignored.
“Frankly, the previous owners, I think, underinvested in few key areas in recent years, so there’s a little bit of just making up for lost time,” Ein said. “So, that’s the first. I think expanding our platforms, including video, is another thing that is a low-hanging fruit.”
“But over time we’re going to look to expand the voice of the paper.”
Listen to the full interview in the second episode of District Download, our podcast produced in partnership with General Assembly.
SHOW NOTES (Links to stories and companies mentioned, along with credit information):
It’s official: TechShop evicted from Crystal City [Washington Business Journal]