Information Technology

Political Analysis vs. Tech Business in the Real World, or, Why Ezra Klein Might Not Conquer the World

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Interesting and news-to-me numbers from Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider with some insight into why the Washington Post was willing to make what seemed to the political pundit class such an obvious mistake as allowing the Brilliant Young Star ® Ezra Klein to leave them for other internet pastures.

Son of Broccoli / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Turns out that the same company, Vox Media, that poached Klein and his Wonkblog did the same successfully a few years back with the Engadget blog, on tech business and culture, and did well with it under the new umbrella of The Verge.

But those two worlds of journalism are way more different than I knew, proving that the world (healthily) is more interested in tech business than they are in Washington brouhahas and Bigthink:

Unlike Engadget, Wonkblog is tiny.

….Wonkblog averages 4 million pageviews per month.

By comparison, when Vox raided Engadget, Engadget was huge. In December 2010, Engadget had more than 12 million unique visitors and more than 200 million pageviews……

With various reasonable guesses, Carlson concludes that:

….a safe estimate for Wonkblog 2.0 is that it will generate $500,000 in annual revenues for Vox in its first few years. [But] [f]or the bottom line figure, [Vox CEO Jim] Bankoff will probably need red ink. Klein already has 8 staffers and he wants to hire 22 more. Each staffer will probably cost at least $100,000 in salary and benefits. 

And getting fresh traffic, even with old stars, isn't that sure a thing:

….three years after…Vox raided Engadget, The Verge is now up to 10 million unique visitors per month – about 83% the size of Engadget back then.

Vox is, of course, thrilled to have a site that is 83% the size of Engadget in 2010. 

But, in 2016, will it be thrilled to have a site that 83% the size of Wonkblog in 2014?