Who We Are /
A Plus is a digital media company that features stories that make a difference and create positive change. We reflect the era of our founding, with an emphasis on mobile-first design, media-rich content, and an emphasis on short, direct text. We’re built from the ground up for the social age, and work with a select group of partner influencers to syndicate our best content through their social feeds.
In less than a year we’ve reached an audience of approximately 50 million monthly visitors by highlighting social issues, sharing breaking news, and creating original, entertaining content.
About Us /
The exemplary A Plus story will make readers feel better about themselves or the world around them after they’ve read it. We accomplish this through pictures, through words, or through lists, but in the end our stories must inspire readers to take positive action. This can be as simple as a smile, a share, or as great as the causation for personal or global change. We do this in several ways:
- Highlight social issues across the globe
- Motivate actions of positive change
- Inject joy into people’s lives
- Enable people to think, dream, learn, and imagine
- Inspire emotion that encourages people to feel more connected to one another
- Provide resources for personal growth
- Offer the opportunity to discover and appreciate our amazing world
A Plus furthers readers’ sense of connection with their community, their neighborhood, their enemy, or their world. Our stories encourage readers to see themselves in others and reveal their secret selves. Our stories highlight moments of courage, humiliation, anger, folly, but the ones that hit home are the ones that cause readers to feel that they are not alone with their imperfect selves. We do not make fun or put others down; we find ourselves in them!
A Plus inspires readers to be better people through behavioral change. Whether it’s habits to improve their lives, their productivity, or the way they think about the world, readers should be left with a push to be a better version of themselves. It’s easy to build momentum with violence, anger, fear, rumors, salaciousness, but it will generally leave people feeling paralyzed. Our stories should point to solution or action.
Most news organizations fall down when they overcomplicate things that they ought to make simple. Being simple is actually quite difficult, and makes organization essential. Whether it’s through words, pictures, or graphs, we must ensure that we tell the story through the optimal medium, and craft it so that the main ideas can be consumed quickly. Perhaps most importantly, we must focus on creating stories that readers will feel proud to share on their social feeds and send to their friends.
A Plus partners with a select group of influencers who syndicate our best content in their social feeds. Our influencers represent a wide array of demographics, interests, and viewpoints, and work with A Plus to bring captivating, meaningful content to their audiences. These are people who care deeply about their social followings and who collaborate with A Plus to help connect great content produced by writers and creatives around the world with audiences interested in consuming it.
A Plus’ community section empowers writers, bloggers, and creatives who have amazing stories to share by enabling them to easily create content, optimize their writing to reach more people, and get paid a fair share of the ad revenue from their page views. Anyone in the world can create a profile on A Plus, which in many ways functions similar to a traditional blog. Unlike a traditional blog, however, we let writers in our community section use our tools for optimizing headlines, lead photos, and text to get more clicks and shares on their posts. And if we decide to feature your piece by syndicating it with one of our partner influencers, we’ll pay you a portion of the ad revenue we generate from those page views.
A Plus' editorial team includes top writers and editors from some of the world’s foremost media organizations. We hail from places like the New York Times, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed. We’ve appeared on CNN to debate racial issues, we’ve authored books featured in Amazon’s annual Top 10 lists, and we’ve created content that’s been viewed by hundreds of millions of people. Through it all we have enjoyed telling stories that make a difference, and always aim to put the reader first.
co-founder, chairman of the board
Ashton is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of A Plus, where he leads strategic partnerships with brands and influencers. He is a renowned technology investor and in 2009 became the first Twitter user to reach 1 million followers. A Plus reflects the convergence of his interests in media, technology, and social platforms.
co-founder, chief executive officer
Evan is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of A Plus. Over the past five years, Evan has co-founded and launched several successful technology ventures, including a web security structure for small and mid-sized businesses, ArmorHub (acquired by Spirent Communications), and an email contact management company, Etacts (acquired by Salesforce). Evan also founded Wilshire Shaw Inc. where he wrote an iPhone application that attracted international attention from broadcast and print media platforms, including ABC’s Good Morning America program and Cosmopolitan magazine. Evan studied computer science and economics at Duke University, where he graduated with distinction in economics.
Kendall Dabaghi is co-founder and President of A Plus. This is his second technology venture after ArmorHub, a web security platform for small- and medium-sized businesses that he co-founded with Evan and sold to Spirent Communications. Previously, Kendall was a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company, where he worked with Fortune 500 companies to solve their most important technology and Big Data challenges. He is also a Fulbright Scholar, having spent a year in Mexico researching the drug trade, and was invited to guest-lecture at Harvard and Yale University on the subject. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University, where he was Class President.
chief revenue officer
Brad Westbrook has 15 years of experience in the online, mobile and video advertising space. As A Plus’s Chief Revenue Officer, he is responsible for all revenue-related operations, including online marketing, sales and business development. Prior to joining A Plus, Brad was the Chief Digital Sales Officer for The Wall Street Journal. Brad joined the Journal in 2011 and throughout his tenure, he was the director of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which encompasses WSJ.com, WSJ Live, MarketWatch and Smart Money. Brad has also worked for several established digital media companies, including Ask.com and Yahoo!, where he specialized in advertising, business development, behavioral targeting and branded entertainment. He is a graduate of Denison University.
chief business officer
Previously Justin founded Vidaao, an online marketplace for enterprise video creation. Vidaao was acquired by Skyword in August 2014. Prior to Vidaao, Justin founded a video production company and was a management consultant. He also co-owned a summer storage company and consignment bookstore as an undergrad at Amherst College.
Cory comes to A Plus as an Account Director with over 8 years experience in Media. She prides herself on her consultative approach to digital advertising, using her agency experience to help create and cultivate long-lasting client relationships. She's developed a well-rounded portfolio working at Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Sports brands selling across online, mobile, and video platforms. Cory graduated from NYU Summa Cum Laude. She thinks pizza should be a food group and can't wait for the day when the San Diego Chargers and/or San Diego Padres are World Champions.
About 5 years ago, Liza, a Texas native, walked away from law and into digital media. She started her media career in mobile rich media at Medialets and transitioned into digital sales at USA Today and Martini Media where she has worked closely with Beauty, Tech, Auto, CPG and Luxury brands on many native and 1st-to-market campaigns. Liza loves running in Central Park, the San Antonio Spurs, eating copious amounts of cheese, all shows from Masterpiece Classic and is a staunch believer in the A Plus mission. Liza is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin and St. Mary's University School of Law.
Kim is a native New Yorker and has been in advertising for 10 years. She started in video game marketing and transitioned into sales for sports, entertainment, and children's cross platform advertising. Kim is a Sagittarius and a graduate of Loyola Maryland, where she fell in love with a capella and karaoke.
vp ad operations & programmatic strategy
Stephanie Layser has been managing the ad tech business at publishers for the last five years. She most recently consulted for the programmatic business at publishers such as Complex Media, Meredith, and WebMD where she built programmatic strategies, made tech stack recommendations, administered analytics trainings and taught yield management best practices. Prior to consulting, she managed programmatic at Daily Mail and New York Post. She is a graduate of the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University.
Michael attended the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University in Boston MA, where he studied Graphic Design and Marketing. After graduation, Michael moved to New York where he worked at Visualmax, an interactive marketing agency, followed by Martini Media, where he designed and implemented rich media campaigns for luxury clients. In his spare time, Michael enjoys DIY home projects, staying active, and spending time at his family’s place in Vermont.
senior software engineer
Nick joins A Plus from founding an image moderation SaaS startup based on recent innovations in the use of CNNs for image classification. A recent graduate of Brown University in computer science and media studies, Nick is a generalist engineer, working across the A Plus platform to create the best possible experience for both writers and readers.
senior software engineer
Frank comes to A Plus from Sailthru, a SaaS company that specializes in personalization. He is a full stack engineer with and has spent large chunk of his career in the video game industry. He is graduate from University at Buffalo with degree in Computer Science and a self processed startup junkie.
Originally from Mexico City, Rafael received a dual bachelors degree in Computer Science & Mathematics and a masters degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. He specially enjoys algorithms and computer security. Rafael also loves everything flying-related. In his spare time Rafael is a private pilot and loves flying around the US in small single engine airplanes.
Ben was born in Miami and attended Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Design. He has a passion for learning new technologies, playing the drums, and drinking aesthetically pleasing drinks.
Alex Stone, a former Knight-Wallace fellow, is the author of Fooling Houdini, one of Amazon's "Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2012." Stone's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harper's, and Discover, among other places. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in English and has a master's degree in physics from Columbia University.
Cate Matthews is an erstwhile Ohio University English major who made the transition into viral journalism via a stint as an Associate Editor at The Huffington Post. There she ranked among the top ten most viewed writers, bringing in as many as 30 million page views a month. She also won a spelling bee once in middle school, which she thinks is pretty cool.
Joel Lyons is a journalist who has covered music, entertainment, lifestyle, diversity, technology and other topics during various full-time stints and freelance gigs. His work has been seen in 944 magazine, Black Enterprise, the New York Daily News, NY1 News, SoulBounce.com, SoulTrain.com, DJZ.com, JackmasterRadio.com, AppStorm.net, among others. The Phoenix transplant—who now proudly reps Astoria, Queens—has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia.
K.S. Anthony graduated cum laude in 2013 with a B.A. in English from Columbia University. Additionally, he studied novel writing at Yale Summer Session, won first place in creative non-fiction at Belmont University's annual humanities symposium in 2010, and has been published in literary magazines at U.C. Berkeley and Columbia. He also contributed lyrics to four tracks on Sebastian Bach's 2014 album, "Give 'Em Hell," which debuted at #3 on Billboard magazine's Hard Rock albums chart and #72 in their top 200. Prior to A Plus, K.S. has been a security contractor, volunteer sailor, jewelry professional, doorman at a bar, and actor.
Isaac Saul is a 2013 University of Pittsburgh graduate, where he majored in non-fiction writing and got his journalism start as the sports editor for The Pitt News. After college he spent 6 months living, studying and working abroad in Jerusalem at the Interdisciplinary Journal of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He worked as Associate Editor at the Huffington Post, and has appeared on CNN to debate his controversial article 'What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America' with Terrence Moore. You can follow him on twitter @Ike_Saul
Mandy comes to A Plus from the Huffington Post, where she was the Associate Editor of the Family & Relationships vertical. She has published pieces with Cosmopolitan.com, The Huffington Post, Latina.com, Ladies Home Journal magazine and WHIRL Magazine. The Philadelphia native graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013, dual majoring in English with a nonfiction specialization and Communication. She was a recipient of the Frank E. Bolden Endowment for excellence in journalism in 2012.
lead social media editor
Abby Rogers is a proud University of Missouri-Columbia Journalism School graduate who comes to A Plus from Fusion and Al Jazeera America. Before landing in New York she covered politics and justice in Missouri, Maryland, Virginia and California. Now she lives in a tiny New York apartment with her boyfriend and her very demanding cat.
Mike joins A Plus as a Content Strategist with five years of in-house and agency experience in content marketing and technical SEO. He has also been published on CNN.com, Los Angeles Times and Sun Sentinel digital properties, Mike graduated cum laude with master and bachelors degrees from the University of Florida.
Sarah Barness is an editor for A Plus and former trends and digital innovation editor for The Huffington Post. In 2014, she was ranked among the top ten most viewed writers sitewide for HuffPost, and was listed in the top 20 most viewed writers on the Web by MediaMetric. Sarah is a UC Berkely graduate with degrees in rhetoric and communications and has a passion for telling stories. When she is not working on her Sci-Fi novel or scouring the Internet for the latest trends, she is playing the banjo as her St. Bernard stands by, drooling.
Justina Bakutyte holds a bachelor's degree in Communication and Information Sciences with a specialty in Publishing. She has experience with content marketing and advertising. Justina hails from Lithuania and has worked for one of the biggest Lithuanian start-ups, Bored Panda, as well as the U.S.-based art and design blog Beautiful/Decay.
Danutė holds a Master's degree in Marketing and a Bachelor's in Communication from universities in Denmark, Lithuania and South Korea. Prior to A Plus, Danutė spent several years fashion blogging in Paris and working as a business developer for a marketing agency in London. Danutė speaks 5 languages and has experience with content marketing, branding and entrepreneurship, including consulting the Prime Minister's Office of Lithuania, featuring her pieces on Creative Bloq, the UK's top design site, and co-founding a fashion label. Originally from Lithuania, she is now based in New York.
Jordan joins the A Plus team after having worked on several TV series and pilots including THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW (CBS/Sony), IRREVERSIBLE (ABC) and RAKE (FOX) with legendary screenwriter and producer Peter Tolan. Jordan holds a BA in Journalism with a second concentration in Theater from Indiana University where she wrote a weekly column for the award-winning student-run newspaper The Indiana Daily Student. When she’s not writing for A Plus, Jordan can be seen performing stand up at the world famous Caroline’s on Broadway and a few other hilarious venues. She has appeared on The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Live to talk about her late father’s bestselling book “The Magic Room.”
Claire graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual major in Non-Fiction Writing and Communications. After graduation, Claire worked as an Assistant Editor at Guest of a Guest where she helped produce the site’s “You Should Know” series and covered fashion, art, and social events throughout New York City. Claire’s writings have been published on Guest of a Guest, VERVE Social Magazine, A Plus, and more.
Jason is an Associate Editor at A Plus and Digital Manager for Lil Wayne & Young Money Entertainment. He specializes in writing, digital marketing, strategic development & more. He's also the owner of three very spoiled dogs.
Lisa Winter graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Bio). Prior to bringing her nerdiness to A Plus as an associate editor, she worked as a science writer for IFLScience and co-founded the blog for The Origins Project at ASU. She has interviewed 7 Nobel laureates and many other top minds in science. After Lisa’s husband completed his service in the United States Air Force, the pair were able to move their 3 children back to their hometown of Muskegon, Michigan where they enjoy going to the beach and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans.
Clarissa-Jan Lim is an associate editor on the A Plus Trends Team with experience in news, politics and trending stories during her time at Bustle. Her work on local Manhattan news, as well as the intersection between BDSM and feminism have also been published. She is a born-and-bred Malaysian, is native to three languages and has a BA in journalism from SUNY Purchase.
Camille comes to A Plus from the blog Brokelyn, where she helped fellow young Brooklynites live lavishly on whatever pennies they could scrape together. She studied History at Yale and spent some time after graduation working in publishing and content writing. She's originally from New York City and can often be found trying to explore every block of it by bike.
Ariana Marini is a writer based on New York. She graduated summa cum laude from Emerson College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in just two years. Her previous experience includes Scholastic, NOVA, Everyday Health, and Mechanical Engineering magazine. She enjoys writing nonfiction, reading fiction, and watching standup comedy.
Victor joins A Plus after a three year stint in Silicon Valley, where he worked in content marketing for Quixey, a mobile search engine, and Facebook. His writing has appeared in The A.V. Club, KQED, The Bold Italic, and his pop culture magazine, Thelma. He graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Economics and English, and he's also a self-proclaimed sandwich connoisseur, whatever that means.
Steven Lerner is an Associate Editor writing listicles for A Plus. For four years, he was the Editor for Ocean Happening, a digital lifestyle magazine in Ocean County, NJ. He also has written for the Asbury Park Press and Nosotros Newspaper. Steven began his media career as a Producer & Writer at Pan Desi TV. He is a 2009 graduate from Rowan University, with a bachelor's degree in Radio/TV/Film. Steven is also an actor/filmmaker, and he roots for his beloved New York Jets and New York Mets.
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