Hello and welcome to the 22nd edition of This Business of Art, your bi-weekly roundup of ideas and news relating to media and writing and all that stuff.
The Most Innovative Companies Of 2016
Fast Company‘s exhaustive list of the Most Innovative Companies of 2016 is here! The top ten are: Buzzfeed, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, CVS Health, Alphabet, Uber, Black Lives Matter, Netflix and Taco Bell. Black Lives Matter is obviously a little different in its mission, moral center and scope than the rest of the top ten, but “non-profits” are a subcategory of the rankings, so.
Other companies relevant to your interests that made the list in their various areas of specialty include Slack, Warby Parker, Everlane, Pinterest, Shopify, Air BnB, HBO, Snapchat, YouTube, Humans of New York, Target, Spotify, Adidas, AltSchool, FitBit, SoulCycle, Sweetgreen, Lego, Riot Games, Lifetime, Perioscope, Afropunk, Under Armour, Instagram, Virgin America, Pandora, SoundCloud, Toms, Indiegogo, Tumblr, Giphy, Tindr, Asos and Birchbox.
Grindr is noted “for promoting LGBT tolerance worldwide.”
This issue of Fast Company also includes a big story about Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti and his vision for the “100-year company” It’s wild, truly, the size and breadth of this company, which Peretti plans to mold into a conglomerate of initiatives as diverse and expansive as, for example, Paramount. The reporter visits a dizzying array of studios and offices; talks to video-makers, data-miners, more data-analyzers, ad salespeople, social-media-marketers, ad-creators, and other people doing things with data. Most intimidating is “Hive,” their data-driven social-media-optimization editorial idea machine.
Pound and Hive, chaos and comedy, serendipity and quantified metrics: These are the tools of BuzzFeed’s newfangled global media enterprise. “There’s an opportunity for a modern media company to be more engaged with the audience than ever before,” Peretti says, “and have a more intimate connection in people’s lives, to respond and be reactive to the things that matter to people.”
There’s also an interview with Buzzfeed publisher Dao Nguyen, “the down-to-earth geek who you’d expect to be building BuzzFeed’s technology and data infrastructure.”
…for us, publishing volume is actually really important. It’s not that we want to crank stuff out there for no reason at all. The more you publish, the more opportunities you have to look at things that are happening, read comments, have a new hypothesis, test a hypothesis. And if you can do that relatively quickly, then you remember what you were testing.
Over at Poynter, there’s a look at one area of Buzzfeed’s work that isn’t entirely driven by data collection and analysis: its investigative news team, which was built (with money and also) with an eye on reporters, “not beats.”
This Business of Online Media
+ MTV News is digging its talons into the internet, hoping to get a slice of that demographic they invented that everybody else has now dug their talons into. They’ve got Jessica Hopper and former Grantland editorial director Dan Fierman on hand for the reboot.
+ So, print is dead… but maybe digital is too? Ad dollars concentrate around Google and Facebook, venture-backed publishers like Buzzfeed can afford to buy more traffic than traditional papers can, and traditional publishers are being asked to also become software developers and video-makers if they hope to compete.
+ Digiday visits Great Big Story, CNN’s new project aimed at “someone who has either aged out of or doesn’t necessarily identify with Vice — who’s not a 22-year-old white male. And it’s someone who may have totally eaten up the cotton candy of BuzzFeed but thinks there’s something more to life than that and actually enjoys consuming content that makes them think a little bit.” One-third of the staff are video producers, one-third are sales, and 20% do audience development.
+ This is how Buzzfeed creates and curates its content specifically for different social platforms, to ensure that everybody can get the Buzzfeed experience everywhere all the time. This is how Vox produces social news and this is how Fusion does it.
+ “She came to the company to create an enviable culture—which she did—and she left it sustaining and abled and in the end, there was really no need for her anymore at Netflix. She had played a good game, but the team no longer needed her as a player..”
+ Janice Min went from re-birthing US Weekly to re-birthing The Hollywood Reporter and talks to The Guardian about pay equity in Hollywood, celebrities and branding and why stars still covet print covers in an increasingly digital world.
+ The Washington Post has launched a new feature that will desperately plead for you to remain on their site when they feel like you’re about to leave their site.
+ “People who use adblockers when using the web could be some of the most valuable people to show ads to, according to a new report.”
+ The Guardian is considering a paywall.
+ Buzzfeed is launching “Pero Like,” a distributed project for “the English-speaking Latinx community.”
This Business of Audio
+ As somebody who’s been listening to Michigan Radio’s coverage of the Flint water crisis for nine months, this article sang directly to my heart: How Covering the Flint water crisis has changed Michigan Radio.
+ “The conversational format has a barbershop vibe to it, in which the hosts are friends talking amongst themselves, rather than an authority representing an entire segment of people. “
+ Just in case you didn’t already know about Mailchimp, they’re doing product placement in Issa Rae’s new podcast.
+ Soundcloud is losing a lot of money and will require additional investment to forge on. This could have pretty dire implications for its members (like us!).
+ A look at hyperlocal publications growing up and taking shape all across this fine country of the united states.
The End Times
+ Facebook will open up “Instant Articles” to all publishers in April. The Wall Street Journal and other big news publishers have reported making solid ad revenue through their Instant articles, so it’s expected that most publishers with the technical capacity will follow suit. This announcement comes shortly after Google’s announcement that they’ll be implementing “Accelerated Mobile Pages” this month, an initiative which will see Google Search results favoring faster-loading sites on mobile. AMP claims to be open to all publishers… but is actually only open to those who can afford a technical staff with the time to learn an entirely new coding language and re-code their entire site for AMP. (Not us!)
+ The Independent will cease printing in late March and will only publish digitally. Lots of layoffs are expected.
+ Yahoo is shutting down several of its verticals, including Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Food.
+ Time Inc has purchased MySpace… for its user data.
This Business of Tech
+ Delivery Costs are Devouring Food Startups: Full disclosure, this was written by the guy who runs Farmigo. One thing they don’t discuss, though, is the expense of paying delivery people. So many of these services are really only set up to pull off one or two deliveries an hour (e.g., Postmates, Instacart), which means a delivery fee has to exceed minimum wage… which can be tough.
+ Why are some of the Web’s ugliest sites its most popular? I honestly hope craigslist and wikipedia never change their design. Part of what I love about those sites is that they load quickly and are easy to navigate.
+ “Reddit has hired Mark S. Luckie, the former news manager at Twitter and the person behind Today in Black Twitter, as its first-ever head of journalism and media.” Here, Mark Luckie gives advice on pushing for diversity.
+ Google is Finally Killing Picasa: I AM GOING TO CRY and cling to my desktop app like a madwoman.