HEADLINE has come an incredibly long way from our humble beginnings. Below is a brief overview of our company history.
HEADLINE INC was founded by Aaron Martinez in May of 2021. Prior to the formation of HEADLINE INC, HEADLINE operated as a subsidiary of Iron Oak Holdings LLC—a venture investment firm and insurance company owned by Martinez. From January 2020 until February 2021, HEADLINE operated primarily as a news platform, generating news content with an unbiased perspective.
Martinez, an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and political commentator founded the HEADLINE News project in San Antonio, Texas. As a journalist, Martinez began his career by covering Capitol Hill before focusing on presidential primaries. In 2020, he was credentialed by Senator Sanders’s Presidential Campaign and Senator Warren’s Presidential Campaign. Aaron Martinez is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Martinez conceived HEADLINE as a syndicated news service for financial management companies, but HEADLINE evolved into a different beast entirely after the February 2020 onset of the Coronavirus. With pandemic came misinformation; raging fires of fake news were stoked by increasingly partisan forces that dominated the media landscape.
Aaron Martinez was quoted as saying, “Institutional media has become so biased, you have to read–at least ten different publications to get a full picture.”
There are of course some hallmark media brands that consistently hold the middle ground–the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, etc. Wire services especially, rate the highest in terms of balanced coverage. But the readership of wire-service-style papers dwarfs in comparison to left-right journals further removed from the center. Why then, would readers prefer mainstream partisan news over impartial wire services when a recent Gallup poll found that:
9% in U.S. trust mass media “a great deal” and 31% “a fair amount” 27% have “not very much” trust and 33% “none at all” The percentage with no trust at all is a record high, up to five points since 2019. Martinez, HEADLINE founder, summarized the media paradox like this:
“Statistically speaking, most Americans are relatively moderate. But we, as individuals, hold opinions and beliefs that cover the gamut–to a degree in excess of those traditionally available on the left-right continuum. This discrepancy is not adequately addressed by institutional media, where demographics are monolithic, and bias-reinforcement is the path of least resistance. So, if most Americans are painfully aware of this reality, which we are, why do we gravitate to papers that only offer a partial picture of our belief systems, when wire services are much more in-line with our values? Emotion!”
From its inception, HEADLINE has faced several considerable challenges. Beyond basic challenges such as a lack of capital, or access to professional networks, HEADLINE—as a news site, faced an incredibly uphill battle. Typical news startups are the result of experienced editorial teams from competing news networks with millions of dollars in capital. HEADLINE had access to neither.
After initially committing 100% of resources to original news generation and website design, there was very little growth to show for it. On top of that, ad networks are notoriously unfair to small publishers. Six months of original news later, the HEADLINE News website had yet to generate even $50 in revenue. Martinez knew a shift was needed.
In January of 2021, Martinez began exploring the possibility of integrating crypto tools into the HEADLINE News website. That exploration began as an investigation into proof-of-work and proof-of-stake networks. After an exhaustive search, Martinez determined that the Algorand network presented the highest potential option for integration.
From January 2021 until April 2021, Martinez began building a crypto sub-community within the Algorand community. Still anchored to the unbiased principles of the HEADLINE News website, Martinez found an incredible amount of support within the Algorand community. HEADLINE’s unbiased value system proved to be an ideal complement to crypto’s decentralized nature. Both systems were created as a response to corrupt, largely stagnant institutions that no longer valued the considerations of individuals.
In early April of 2021, Martinez launched an airdrop of the (sandboxed) HEADLINE token (HDL). This airdrop was meant to gauge the interest in HDL within the larger community. Over 3,000 community members signed up for the airdrop. Now, because Martinez was new to crypto, he did not have access to complex tools that could facilitate the distribution of tokens on a large scale. From 11 a.m. April 3rd to 2 p.m. April 4th, Martinez personally completed over 3,000 airdrop transactions by hand.
Soon after the April airdrop, Brian Scherlen joined the HEADLINE team as a project manager. With exponentially increasing momentum and overwhelming support from the community, Martinez determined that HEADLINE News needed to be temporarily shelved while the project secured funding.
Securing funding for a startup can become a very intense, drawn-out process. Martinez first approached the Algorand Foundation to fund an expansion of the HEADLINE News platform. But he quickly learned that foundations are built to support open-source projects, not closed platforms like a news site. This revelation led Martinez to consider a fundamental recalibration of HEADLINE’s role within the crypto community. In order to fund certain proprietary systems, HEADLINE would need to transition from closed-source to open-source projects.
Because HEADLINE News could not function as an open-source, totally community-run enterprise, it meant that HEADLINE would need to adopt a dual business strategy. Some tools would be community-based, others proprietary. This turned out to be a major turning point for HEADLINE, a strategy shift that Martinez could not have possibly made without the invaluable advice he received from the Algorand Foundation.
In June of 2021, HEADLINE was granted a developer award by the Algorand Foundation to build a suite of React tools for Algorand developers. React front-end tooling is a niche industry, meaning that successfully completing the project would elevate HEADLINE to an elite group of developer teams.
This opened a world of possibility and HEADLINE’s final business structure began to take shape. HEADLINE as HEADLINE INC would oversee multiple projects, comprising both open-source and proprietary technology, SAAS enterprise and consumer-facing, generating revenue while building a war chest to fully launch HEADLINE’s most ambitious projects.
To date, HEADLINE INC has gained three strategic partnerships—the Algorand Foundation, Ledger, and the Texas Blockchain Council. The HDL token (still sandboxed) is available on Ledger Live (an elite exchange and digital wallet). HEADLINE INC has launched a newsletter, DISPATCH—nearly 2,000 subscribers. HEADLINE will be rapidly expanding operations in the near future and adding additional blockchain partnerships.
But what about the news? What happened to HEADLINE News, the project that started it all? As funding is secured to expand operations, HEADLINE will begin to dramatically scale up our original news generation once more.
And yes, we are as committed as ever to our unbiased value system. HEADLINE and its family of brands will continue to promote unbiased perspectives and branding in media, finance, and emerging digital ecosystems.