Bryan Goldberg speaks to TheWrap about Bustle, his controversial $6.5 million women's website
Bleacher Report founder Bryan Goldberg revealed his new web venture on Tuesday, raising questions of journalistic integrity and sexism in the process.
Bustle.com, Goldberg wrote, "is an opportunity to completely transform women’s publishing." A well-funded opportunity, too: Goldberg reported that he'd already raised $6.5 million in funding for the venture.
The outcry was immediate and fairly vicious. Many women understandably took exception to a man stating that he knew what was best for women's publications. But Goldberg told TheWrap that he remains undaunted.
"I'm disappointed that some people are jumping to quick conclusions about Bustle, and this simply expands our list of goals," Goldberg said. "Effective tomorrow, we have a lot more people to convince and win over. My team is prepared to do just that."
He added that he wasn't surprised at the backlash. "Of course I expect us to have critics," he said. "My last website had critics. My future endeavors will have critics. If you let critics dictate your sense of mission, then you automatically lose."
Goldberg, who sold Bleacher Report to Turner Broadcasting last year for around $200 million, described Bustle as one of few high-revenue publications for women and an alternative to magazines like Vogue and Glamour that "under-invested in digital" and have "absolutely disgraceful" unique visitor counts.
"You're damn right this is a feminist publication," Goldberg wrote in the Q and A portion of the article that was, essentially, him answering the questions that he asked.
Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffery and Maura Johnston made sure to re-tweet some of Goldberg's tweets from July about the trials and travails of working in an office of women. Or, as Goldberg said on July 1, "Having a company full of girls is great -they snuck into my bedroom and filled it with balloons! Luckiest CEO ever!"
"Women's Website Drama — one of the ladies didn't get the bowling ball all the way to the pins. Maintenance guy on the way…" he tweeted on July 19.
Goldberg defended the tweets to TheWrap, saying "Being a lonely man amongst many many women at this office is a fun, strange, and (at times) hilarious situation. Our bowling trip was one such example, there will be many more."
He added: "Today, I had to google 'IUD,' because it was on the front page of our site. Our strength is that we are an unusual combination of people with disparate strengths, and we are not the type of people who would typically come together for a large business venture. That will bring with it a lot of challenging and light-hearted moments. And it is also why we will be huge."
When people weren't being offended over Goldberg's take on women, they protested what they believed was a conflict of interest for PandoDaily; that a website that covers Silicon Valley featured a favorable article about one of those companies written by the company's founder.
PandoDaily founder and editor-in-chief Sarah Lacy disagrees. "I think some people who feel that way don't understand that Bryan is a columnist for us who regularly writes about the process of building his second company, as does Paul Carr and I do too from time to time," she told TheWrap. "Bryan is a controversial figure and I think it's a little unfair that people are criticizing him for something that's pretty common practice."
Lacy also said that Goldberg's contributions to PandoDaily ("close to 100 posts") have been "some of the most popular pieces we've ever published."