What do you get when you mix a firebrand political blogger, an Internet innovator and a few million rabid sports fans? A valuable startup.
Jim Bankoff is sitting in a Manhattan diner, rather than the Four Seasons or some other power spot, and he’s nursing a single ginger ale, rather than a Bordeaux or martini. But that doesn’t keep the CEO of Vox Media from delusions of grandeur. “We want Vox to be the preeminent modern media publisher,” he says. “We look at what Condé Nast did in magazine publishing, and we can do that in digital publishing, meaning scale and quality and value.”
Whoa, there, Jim–put down that glass. Vox publishes SB Nation and two smaller sites. FORBES estimates revenues are $25 million and it’s only now breaking even. Those are pretty meager numbers for such grandiose talk.
But rather than dream of what probably won’t be, it’s more instructive to look at what currently is. Bankoff is one of the few digital publishers who seem to have cracked a riddle: How do you produce quality content that will also make money?