Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Selling Something Other than Ads

I have a joke about brands creating content that starts by explaining that Red Bull is actually one of the largest (if not the largest) producer of action sports content in the world. That fact is quickly followed by the punchline: Turns out it’s a lot easier to be a publisher that sells highly-caffeinated soda instead of ads.

Interestingly, it looks like Bloomberg thinks the same way:

[Paul] Bascobert [president of Bloomberg Businessweek] told me, “I was asked, ‘Would you charge for BW.com?’ I said maybe, someday. But the advantage of our model, with the terminal business helping to support the other content businesses, we don’t have to charge for the website. We don’t have to fund our business in that way. That said, the magazine’s job within Bloomberg is to create added value to the terminal business. And that’s part of what the formation of the Bloomberg Media Group is meant to reflect.”

I think of this as crazy-guy-in-the-room-syndrome. It’s the idea that you never want to fight the guy with nothing to lose and essentially a company like Bloomberg, or even further Red Bull, are dangerous to the media industry because they’re playing by a completely different set of rules. In case you don’t believe Bloomberg fits this, check out what The New York Times reported Mr. Bloomberg himself had to say as the company that bears his name was considering the BusinessWeek purchase, “At the time, Mr. Bloomberg cast aside the warnings of consultants and executives who told him that the magazine was a financial millstone that would cost the company, at best, $25 million a year. ‘Do I look like a guy worried about losing $25 million?’ Mr. Bloomberg asked the naysayers.”

[Via James Gross]

April 5, 2011