“There's no captive audience anymore, so you have to prove it every day and earn it every day.”
Big shout-out to David Hirschman at Mediabistro today who does a great job of explaining TheWrap's philsophy, and discussing our growth in the first year as well as our plans to expand this year.
In a q&a, I talk about how we got to where we are, how we managed to become so credible so quickly and our plans for paid content.
Here's part of the interview:
The Wrap has now been around for over a year, during which time the site has inserted itself pretty aggressively in the Hollywood ecosystem and broken quite a few big stories along the way. Has it gone the way you expected?
I actually didn't know how it was going to go….But every time you hit a milestone in the beginning — in the first four or five months — you think, "Okay, that's the last time we're ever going to hit that." And then we'd surpass it. Then Michael Jackson died in June, and we had our biggest traffic month ever. We doubled our traffic in a month because people were so interested in that story, and because we broke a couple of other major stories earlier in the month. When that happened, my COO Kevin Davis and I looked at each other and said, "Well, that'll never happen again." And then, of course, it did. So it's been a really fantastic year, because it's been about one stage of growth after another and watching The Wrap become pretty rapidly accepted as a credible source.
As you've been on the upswing this year, traditional entertainment media — like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter — have been on the ropes. Why do you think that's happening, and how soon do you think one of them will go under?
Variety and Hollywood Reporter are in trouble for the same reasons that all print media is in trouble. They're very much part of the collapse of the print business model. But it's exacerbated by the fact that they've not adapted — really at all — to the needs of the digital age. So their Web sites have been losing traffic steadily over the last year or two. They've been in the same kind of death spiral as newspapers — they've been cutting staff and laying off talent, thereby giving readers less and less reason to read them, and therefore attracting less advertising, therefore needing to cut staff more, et cetera. And so they're really in that cycle, and they've not figured out how to make their content essential to their audience.
Hirschman asks if we're interested in being acquired, to which I answer – not now, thank you, we're having too much fun.
We don't have any plans to sell The Wrap right now. We have investors, and our investors expect to be able to get a return on their investment, which I fully intend to give them. We're funded by a venture capital firm, so they're not in it for the fun. But right now, I'm not really thinking about when we sell the company. I'm thinking about this huge growth opportunity that we have. So we're currently looking at expanding — expanding our coverage in other verticals that are related to entertainment. And we are raising money at the moment for that expansion.
I definitely wouldn't rule out our finding an alliance with some bigger media company down the road, but right now I think we're very much at the beginning of this venture, and I think we feel that we're on the map in a really significant way, and that there is a huge opportunity for us to become the number one voice in the space. That's really the goal. And my goal is to create a business model that works for quality journalism.
Read the full interview here.