This article is part of an ongoing series profiling participants in the PubTech Connect conference, presented on April 20, 2017 by PW and the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Publishing.
Let's try a little thought experiment: imagine you have to create a purpose-built media company for the digital age. You can start from scratch, scrap any legacy business models, and customize a way of making and spreading content that reaches readers wherever they are and makes the most of the powers of the Internet.
What you might come up with is Vox Media, whose eight brands--SB Nation, The Verge, Polygon, Curbed, Eater, Racked, Vox and Recode—cover the gamut of subject areas from sports, tech, and general news to food and video games, and are known for super high-quality video and journalism. Under the leadership of Jim Bankoff, the afternoon keynote speaker at PubTech Connect, Vox has significantly grown its network of media properties and become a leader in online content, an example of how to do the Internet right that other companies can’t help but follow.
In an interview with the fashion trade publication WWD, Bankoff said that "One of the nice things about our brands is…they have permission to program to audiences wherever their audiences are. It’s a generational thing. Some of the older brands — just because they’ve had storied pasts and have made an indelible impression in the consumers’ mind, it might be harder to travel into new places.” That kind of targeting and flexibility has made Vox thrive.
Vox has its origins in SportsBlogs Inc., a blog network started by a political strategist, a writer, and the founder of the Daily Kos. In 2009, they brought on Bankoff, formerly an exec at AOL, as CEO, and Vox as we know it today was born. In his early career at AOL, Bankoff had helped create a host of influential sites and products, including Mapquest, AOL Instant Messenger, NetScape, Engadget, and TMZ. He brought that unparalleled experience to Vox.
Over the next several years, Bankoff made a series of acquisitions that built Vox into an unstoppable force. He hired former Engadget and Joystiq editors to create The Verge (tech) and Polygon (video games); buying the Curbed network, giving Vox Curbed (real-estate and home), Racked (shopping), and Eater (Food); creating Vox.com (general news); and then acquiring Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s leading tech site ReCode in 2015. Vox even developed its own content management platform, Chorus, to host, spread, and share its content. In all likelihood, you’ve been reading Vox for years without even knowing it.
At PubTech Connect, Bankoff will sit down with award-winning journalist Sarah Ellison, special correspondent for Vanity Fair, for a keynote entitled “Creating the Media Company of the Future,” a frank chat about what it takes to build a business based on technology, multiple content categories, and a make-it-happen mindset.
Learn more about the PubTech Connect conference and buy tickets here.