OGDEN -- The smartphone holds the key to success for any business, no matter its size, says Jerry Ropelato.
Ropelato, chief executive officer of TechMediaNetwork, is one of the founders of TopTenReviews. TopTenReviews publishes syndicated columns for print media and on the Internet dealing with everything from comic strips to vaccinations for children to tablets for the student to the Curiosity landing on Mars to the effects of using technology before going to sleep.
The company's office is on the corner of 24th Street and Grant Avenue in Ogden. It is considered one of the fastest-growing digital publishers and providers of technology and science news content.
The push now is to bring visitors in to the websites through their smartphones, Ropelato says as he holds up his own.
"People are using these to do everything."
Before Ropelato started TopTenReviews in 2003, he was conducting anti-pornography seminars. The No. 1 question he was asked: What is the best filter for home computers to block pornography sites?
Ropelato says he learned he could make money on the Internet by having employees do the research about products and then rank them.
They write articles for the website and also sell them to newspapers for publication. But the income comes from advertisers who pay to put ads on the websites. The more hits the websites get, the more money TechMediaNetwork makes.
In 2009, Ropelato acquired Imaginova's websites, which are Space.com, LiveScience and Newsarama. Then, he says, "We had that 'aha moment' and realized we were global."
Since then, the company has added other brands, like LaptopMag.com, to its portfolio.
"We're enjoying it," Ropelato says of the success of TechMediaNetwork.
Now with 95 employees in Ogden, 90 in New York City and another 15 in American Fork, Ropelato has his sights set on opening an office in Europe, as well as acquiring additional websites.
What those acquisitions are and where exactly the office will be in Europe, Ropelato is not ready to disclose.
He says the future is bright for his company. Currently, 20 positions are open.
Filling those positions with candidates from the Top of Utah has not been easy, Ropelato says.
"We have set a high bar and are picky on who we hire."
Ropelato says he is working closely with Weber State University to help educate students on what skills they need, but the Internet industry is a fluid one.
"The skill set we needed a month ago is no longer needed, and we need different skill sets," he says. "They just can't keep up because of the pace and the specifics are hard."
It's not just at Weber State, but across the country.
The best training is "on the job. We sit them in front of the computer and tell them to figure it out," Ropelato says.