The Rebooting Show gets into the weeds with those building and operating media businesses, giving an open view into how the smartest people in the media business are building sustainable media businesses.
Big Cabal's Tomiwa Aladekomo on building mobile-first media in Nigeria
On this week’s episode of The Rebooting Show, I spoke to Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO of Big Cabal, a Nigerian digital media company that’s home to a pair of properties: Tech Cabal, which I describe as similar to TechCrunch but with more memes and Zikoko, a BuzzFeed-like culture publication.
Big Cabal has raised $2.3 million in venture capital as it builds an independent digital media company in Africa’s largest economy that's geared to shifting consumption patterns. Tomiwa and I discuss how Big Cabal looks to find white spaces in the market, making hard calls when to pull back on efforts like it recently did with a citizen journalism project, when brands can be pan-African vs market specific, and an on-the ground assessment of the impact of Semafor in its Africa push.
Subscriptions in the age of ARPU
The Rebooting recently wrapped up its second research project in collaboration with BlueConic. Patrick Crane, vp of sales at BlueConic, joined me on The Rebooting Show to discuss the state of subscriptions at publishers and the maturation of the market.
“One of the reasons I call it a forever business is to call out the fact that there is going to be ongoing work,” Patrick told me, “but also that it sets you up to play a very sustainable game.”
Among the topics covered:
The shifting role of steep discounts in subscription programs
Why ad avoidance is really more bad UX avoidance
The wisdom of making subscription products for specific slices of your audience
Check out "The State of Publisher Subscriptions" report.
Hearst's Bridget Williams on a 'thoughtful mercenary' approach to the local news business
Bridget Williams is a veteran of the industry. I first got to know Bridget when she was at Business Insider prior to heading to Food52 before landing at Hearst Newspapers in tk, where she is chief commercial officer. On this week’s episode of The Rebooting Show, we spoke about the progress toward a sustainable business model for Hearst news outlets like The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle and others around the country. All told, Hearst newspaper properties have 400,000 digital subscribers.
Bridget and I discuss how a "thoughtful mercenary" approach to local news means looking to non-news products to provide utility to communities to subsidize the critical impact journalism that is disappearing from many places.
The Guardian's Steve Sachs on voluntary contributions as a reader revenue model
The Guardian has used voluntary reader contributions as a bulwark of its unique model that blends philanthropy, advertising and voluntary contributions. In the U.S., The Guardian now generates 57%, or $33 million, of its revenue from voluntary contributions, either one-off or recurring.
On this week’s episode of The Rebooting Show, I spoke with Steve Sachs, The Guardian’s U.S. managing director and veteran of non-profit news models, about this approach and how extensible it is for news publishers.
Jeff Selingo on the independent path
Jeff Selingo spent eight years at the Chronicle of Higher Education, serving as editor in chief and editorial director, before setting off on his own path. Jeff and I have traded notes on the independent path over the years, and I wanted to have him on The Rebooting Show to discuss what we’ve both learned on the independent path. We discuss the transition from editorial to sales, why treating “lifestyle business” as a pejorative is strange, and fighting the pull to rebuild what you left behind.
How Blockworks survived the crypto winter
Blockworks, founded as a crypto events company in 2018, has rode these ups and downs. It began in the face of a crypto pullback with the thesis that crypto would become a major asset class and as it grew, institutional investors would need a credible source of information, analysis and research beyond an anonymous Twitter account with a monkey avatar shooting lasers from its eyes.
As crypto recovered and headed into a bull run that accelerated during the pandemic into what I’d consider a bubble, Blockworks expanded from events into podcasts and news. With $12 million in VC raised in possibly the hardest time to raise for a crypto media company, Blockworks is building out a research arm.
Jason Yanowitz, CEO of Blockworks, discusses the evolution of the company and the benefits of staying focused and being a "mile deep" vs an inch deep.
Smart, chatty, a little catty, and always filled with smart media conversations
Engaging and vital listening
The Rebooting is vital listening for anyone wanting to learn more or simply keep up with what’s happening with all the new news brands popping up. No show goes as deep on the business models of these new brands that make big debuts.
Brian is a good interviewer and knows the ins and outs of the world of media startups to ask the right questions. And he always gets into the money, something journalists and media folks appreciate.
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A fantastic listening experience and a perfect complement to Brian’s newsletter and earlier work at Digiday. This is an essential podcast for operators in media. Brian’s ability to book great guests, ask valuable questions, share valuable insights, and keep the conversation moving makes for time well spent. I consistently walk away with a better understanding of macro-level issues in media but, more importantly, micro-level ideas for my own business.