Business is looking for good for subscription-based tech news site The Information. This summer it announced plans for an accelerator program to encourage others to leap into paid media and today, at its summit event, it revealed the five successful applicants in batch one as well as its own hiring plans.
The accelerator has a pretty diverse bunch which cover subjects that include tech — of course — Hollywood, investing and local news. The companies — which hail from the U.S., Europe and Asia and are of varying maturity and size — each get a $25,000 check alongside mentoring from The Information’s staff and help figuring out their distribution strategy and business model.
The project is a first of kind, and one that has serious potential when you look at how a number of the early paid-for media entities have progressed.
Beyond The Information itself, which is four years ago, positive examples can be found in analyst Ben Thompson’s Stratechery blog and newsletter, and — outside of tech — examples like TheSkimm. The trend is also visible among traditional media, with the New York Times seeing its paid subscriptions rise and Facebook trialling a paid subscription service for media partners.
The Information’s founder and editor-in-chief Jessica Lessin previously said the immediate goal for the program is to put companies in a position to leave with “meaningful revenue” as a business, which is defined at around $100,000 in annual recurring and growth.
Here are the five selected companies:
Ashley Catherine Woods — Founder of a Detroit-based local news startup
Detour is a new local information startup in Detroit based on a free daily email — think ‘The Skimm’ for your city — and a membership-driven community centered around quality journalism, events and engagement. Ashley most recently led digital strategy and engagement at the Detroit Free Press. She also worked as the Detroit Editor of The Huffington Post and as reporter and editor for numerous Detroit-centric publications. Ashley has a strong vision for the future of local news and how to engage millennials with their communities. She believes the Detour model can scale to other markets.
Richard Rushfield — The Ankler
The Ankler is a newsletter covering the entertainment industry, offering daily scoops, commentary and insight into the passing parade of America’s most colorful industrial spectacle. Richard Rushfield is a veteran journalist who has covered the entertainment industry for over 20 years. He is a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair, and has served as an editor for an array of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Yahoo, Gawker and BuzzFeed. He is the author of three books, including a history of the television juggernaut, American Idol. In his past lives, he worked as a political field organizer and as a producer of the TV show Blind Date.
David Bank — ImpactAlpha
David Bank is the CEO and editor of ImpactAlpha, “Investment news for a sustainable edge.” ImpactAlpha serves the marketplace of impact investors and entrepreneurs who generate financial returns through creation of social and environmental value. ImpactAlpha’s ImpactSpace database is “CrunchBase for impact,” an open-data directory of ventures, funds, deals and people.
As a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, David covered software, cybersecurity and philanthropy. His book, “Breaking Windows” (Free Press, 2001), about Microsoft’s rise and fall, was named one of the best business books of the year by Harvard Business Review and Amazon. Later, as vice president of Encore.org, he developed the campaign around encore careers, second acts for the greater good.
David was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and UC Santa Cruz.
YuChing Lu and Michael Chou — Daodu.Tech
Daodu.Tech（科技島讀) is a Chinese subscription publication focusing on technology and business strategy. It prides itself for providing original tech analysis from a Taiwan perspective. Recent articles include an analysis of Google’s acquisition of HTC’s engineering team and the global expansion of a local scooter startup, Gogoro.
Daodu Tech was co-founded by Michael Chou and YuChing Lu, who in 2012 began working together on an earlier version called Youwu Report. It adopted a subscription business model in 2015 and then changed to a “single author model.” Michael is the lead author. Before founding Youwu Report, he was an attorney at one of the leading hardware companies in Taiwan. YuChing is in charge of marketing. Before Youwu Report, she worked as an environment policy consultant assisting Taiwan’s public sector. She also started a subscription publication focusing on women’s career planning.
Besides the newsletter, Daodu.Tech hosts member event and podcasts.
Beniamino Pagliaro — Good Morning Italia
Good Morning Italia is a journalistic organization born in 2013 in Italy, publishing a Daily Briefing of current events and helping readers understand what will be newsworthy in the next days. It was founded in 2013 by Beniamino Pagliaro of La Stampa and it became incorporated in 2014 with five journalists co-founders: Piero Vietti, Stefania Chiale, Valentina Ravizza, Davide Lessi and Nicola Imberti. It now has more than 15 people, including 12 journalists. It has thousands of subscribers and many corporate customers although the founders still feel the company is in early stage development. As a result, they plan to invest in upgrading its technology.
The Information also revealed today that it plans to double its reporting headcount with as many as 15 new hires coming aboard before the end of next year.
The company already has offices in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong, but this expansion will see it gain a presence in Los Angeles. It also plans to hire reporters in Washington DC to further expand its coverage.