Edition #86

The Athletic launches in the UK, Tik Tok faces challenges and Vice is looking for a sale.

Some personal news:

tl ;dr — I had an amazing, long run at BuzzFeed, but the time had come for something new. And I’m thrilled to say I’ve joined Medium as the VP of Publisher Growth & Strategy. I’ll be based in NYC, traveling less than the last few years, but excited to keep this newsletter going (though maybe I’ll start publishing it on Medium, too?).


The Athletic officially launched its UK edition on Friday. It’s aiming to soon have 55 people working full-time there writing about soccer aka football, focused primarily on covering Premier League. (Press Gazette)

Tokyo-based news aggregator SmartNews raised $28 million in a new round of funding, and is now valued at $1.1b. (Axios)

Despite still having some of the most-subscribed-to newspapers in the world, Japan has seen a decline of 10 million newspaper subscribers since 2000. (Nippon.com)

The Guardian officially broke even in 2018, with a majority of its revenue now coming from digital. (The Guardian)

Some U.S. Twitter users, tired of seeing white supremacist content, are changing their locations settings to Germany, where strong federal laws require the swift removal of hate speech and anything promoting Nazism. (CNBC)

Tik Tok is growing quickly, but faces four big challenges, writes Casey Newton. A lot of its growth is still due to the huge marketing budget it has been spending, and now’s the time to start turning the curious masses in to regular users. (The Interface <— if you haven’t subscribed yet, you should!)

Here’s a long look at Quibi, the Jeffrey Katzenberg led short-form video content app launching next year. As always, the numbers are astounding: $1 billion in funding, a $470 million budgeted for marketing in year one, $100 million in advertising commitments for the first year, and already 160 employees hired. (The Hollywood Reporter)

The return of Gawker is on hold. I really can’t wait to learn more of this story — what the hell happened!? — but for now, what we know is this: The relaunch of Gawker under the umbrella of internet overlord Bryan Goldberg has been put on hold indefinitely, and the entire launch staff has been fired. If only Gawker were around to cover this. (NY Post)

The New York Times now has nearly 3.8 million digital subscribers, across its news offering, crossword and cooking apps. (New York Times)

Vanity Fair writes that Vice’s CEO is possibly trying to seek an exit via CBS-Viacom at a price around $1.5 billion. Or maybe not! The article also says CBS may not be interested, especially with the distraction of the looming Viacom merger (likely coming this week). (Vanity Fair)


Paths to subscription: The American Press Institute has released an 18-month study focused on what gets people in the U.S. to subscribe to local newspapers. It’s probably the largest study of its kind, and the main takeaways — which I’d guess would likely apply to any news subscription model — are above. (American Press Institute)