Our fearless leaders Tom Kenney and Allen Wolff recently sat down with Tacos + Tech, a San Diego-based podcast by fellow entrepreneur, technology aficionado, and Southern California community enthusiast Neal Bloom. And not to brag, but they covered a lot of exciting stuff about Loyal —like how we started, why we’re here, and where we see ourselves and the mobile industry going. Here are some of our favorite takeaways from their convo:
Surprisingly, both of our leaders began their tech careers on the East Coast: Tom in Philadelphia, then Washington, D.C., and Allen also in D.C. But they were drawn to Southern California by the sun, surf, sand—and the incredibly deep talent pool found in San Diego due to the presence of companies like Qualcomm and Viasat, as well as a strong military presence that brings another layer of data and technology sophistication to the community. It was the ideal setting for Loyal’s headquarters, with the flexibility for remote work both domestically and abroad.
As Allen states in the podcast, “I think that we're all in this to build a great culture. You know, be committed. The San Diego area is where the majority of our team will be, which is great… (yet also) we wanted to build an environment that embraces the hybrid, work-from-home experience and allows people to really impact the products that we buy. And add great value to the people that we touch.”
In Tom’s own words, he was a “mobile fanatic from day one.” So much so that he owned a car phone that cost as much as his car back in the day.
“I was young. I had no money. I had a $400 Honda Civic that my roommate gave me in exchange for my cowboy boots,” shares Tom. “And I had a $400 car phone, and I was crazy about it. I used to call people and it was like $3 a minute. And I would be like, ‘Hey, how’s it going? Okay, now I gotta go,’ since it was so expensive.”
He also shares his background working at Nokia, which he loved so much that he refused to get an iPhone for the longest time. But that eventually changed.
“I held off on getting an iPhone for a long time, and everyone around me is like, ‘You’re crazy. This is a great device.’ So I finally broke down, and I went to the Apple store and bought one… It worked incredibly out of the gate. I was surfing everywhere on the web.”
And he couldn’t resist teasing his friends at Nokia a bit. “I called my buddies at Nokia. I’m like, ‘You guys are toast. And if these guys start building apps, it’s all over for you.” Lol.
Tom’s love for mobile ultimately led him to build Verve, a location-based mobile marketing platform that he grew for 15 years before selling it to a German firm just before the pandemic.
But Tom knew he couldn’t stay away from mobile for long and decided to jump in again, this time launching Loyal to consolidate some of the top non-gaming mobile apps into a single platform to enable scale and accelerated growth.
Always an entrepreneur. Always loving mobile.
Having been in the mobile space for so long, Tom and Allen’s appreciation and respect for publishers has grown steadily over the years—something that’s reflected in how we run Loyal.
“I’m really happy about what we’re doing at Loyal,” says Tom. “I was always jealous of publishers at Verve because every morning, our publishing partners woke up and they had 100% margin to work with. And every morning, I was lucky if I had 45% margin to work with.
“We had employees all over the globe, and engineers, and everything else. So I really admired publishers and what they were creating and how they took the market and the leverage and ultimately the value that they were able to build and sustain.”
Allen also came from a publishing background making games, which solidified his vision for how Loyal could grow.
“What’s nice about our connection and relationship is we stayed in touch over the 20-year horizon and really continued to foster that spirit in terms of what these platforms could do and how you’d go about building a company,” shares Allen. “Making sure that you balance growth with the scalability and the efficiencies you want.”
Tom and Allen have extensive backgrounds in building small businesses and growing them. Now they’re excited to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams of growth and scale too, through Loyal’s consolidation and mobile expertise.
“We realized there's an opportunity to help publishers, the little guys that want access in the categories that we're focused on,” says Tom. “Gaming has evolved part of the marketplace and quite honestly, gaming drove the marketplace forever—probably the first ten years, making up 75% of everything: downloads, revenues, engagement. But since subscriptions started taking off, the other parts of the market have really started to grow very fast. And that's the area that we play in, and since the pandemic, those areas have actually increased even more—20-25% year-over-year growth. In that part of the market, the non-gaming, there aren't companies like Loyal trying to grow scale to protect themselves and build a better platform.
“And we know how to work with publishers. We know how to work with apps. We know how to build apps… so, we can do a good job here and we can provide exit opportunities for a lot of small developers who are looking for what’s next.”
Neal always asks his guests to share their favorite taco spots, and here’s the Loyal verdict:
Tom says Las Olas in Cardiff. “That’s where I have all my lunch meetings.”
And Allen’s is Rudy’s Taco Shop on La Costa Avenue. “Their hard shell tacos are my favorite.”
Those are our favorite parts of the interview, but there are plenty of more insights and stories to enjoy. If you have thirty minutes to spare and are craving some quality mobile content, listen to the whole episode here.
And if you’re interested in learning more about partnering with Loyal, contact our team today.