When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, it was assumed that changes to the newspaper would soon be made, but few saw the licensing of its technology as an obvious step. Now, the Post says revenue from its ARC publishing platform will rival both ads and subscriptions for the company.
According to Bloomberg, who first reported this increase in revenue, the four-year-old product is of particular interest to Bezos, under whom the company has beefed up its tech capabilities vastly.
Arc alone now boasts 250 employees based in Chicago, and now expects to generate $100 million in annual revenues, Shailesh Prakash, chief information officer and vp product at the Washington Post tells Bloomberg. “I’m very confident this will be comparable to our advertising and subscriptions business,” he added.
Created and tested in the Post’s own newsroom, ARC’s most convincing demo just involves navigating to the paper’s website – its use at one of the largest forces in American journalism is crucial to the product’s development. “We have cranky journalists who demand and use this every day, so there’s nowhere for me to hide,” Prakash said. As a continuation of that user-testing, its first public foray involved giving the software to college newspapers for free.
Soon after, the number of media companies paying to use the software began to grow. In May 2018, the company told Digiday that it was supplying as many as 90 sites and apps, with a year end estimated client-base of between 150 and 200 clients. According to Bloomberg, Arc now supplies 600 websites, among them the Boston Globe and Tribune Publishing.
There’s a key difference with some of the new clients, however: they now contain a non-media firm in the form of the British multinational oil and gas company BP Plc. Arc says its new client will use the platform as the publishing software for its internal communications team to deploy articles and videos to websites, email newsletters, and soon a mobile app. In assessing BP’s needs, it seems, Arc “realized that many large companies are essentially publishers,” said Fred Ryan, publisher of the Washington Post.
Of course, the Post is not the only news organisation licensing its publishing software to other publishers. Vox Media’s Chorus content management system began looking outside of its own stable for users last July, the Wall Street Journal reported. But Arc’s strength in this area stems, in part, from the Bezos effect that draws in best-in-class engineers with the offer of rubbing shoulders and talking product with the Amazon founder.
Sourced from Bloomberg, Digiday, Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff.