May 7, 2011

What is the Daily Dot?

Still trying to work this out….

A note from the Daily Dot’s CEO

We are building this media company outside in. The main reason: you don’t want the Houston Livestock Show to be your very first rodeo.

In startup terms: What’s the minimum viable media product?

In this day and age, we expect a media company to have a website, email newsletters, apps, Twitter accounts, a Facebook page, and a presence on Digg and Reddit — for starters. Typically, you’d build yourself a website and then start working on that other stuff. We’re going the other direction.

We’ve started with the email newsletter (no duh). And we’re tweeting, of course. For Act II, we’re going to start covering just one of the dozens or hundreds of communities we will one day cover: Reddit. We’ve already started quietly participating in Reddit. (That’s how you live in an online community, by the way: You don’t “maintain a presence.” You participate.)

This is agile, lean media.

In planning our launch, we grappled with how you get out early and iterate often in a media company. It’s a practice that I wholeheartedly believe in for any kind of product development, as opposed to the blitzkrieg launch of, say, The Daily. The problem is that I haven’t seen anyone who made the approach work. Anyone who’s ever tried to merely dip a toe in the media pool has swiftly sunk.

No one wants to open the New York Times and find two stories and 75,000 trees worth of blank pages — except for the ads, of course. (However, in case you need reminding in your dark nights, the scene in the BBC version of “State of Play” where Bill Nighy prints a blank front page will remind you why you became a journalist.)

Plus, it’s really hard to publish nothing on Sunday and then turn the lights on Monday and pump out 50 to 70 stories a day.

Going outside in means eating the pie one piece at a time. We’re going to expand our coverage gradually, be creative about distribution in an age of abundant, cheap publishing tools, and build the appropriate community presences one at a time. That strategy allows us to holistically iterate on our premise and processes and allows us to get into a dialogue with the members of the community we intend to cover almost immediately.

And, it allows us to get a better picture of who those readers are, which brings the point at which you can start selling (gasp) advertising much sooner.

It’s never been done this way before. And to those who aren’t forward-thinking, it may seem a little backwards. But in this day and age, I can’t see why you’d want to launch any other way.

— Nick White
CEO and Cofounder, the Daily Dot

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