In June, Startup Grind DC was lucky to host Vox Media's CEO Jim Bankoff at 1776. In the past, Startup Grind DC has heard from the founders of mainly tech companies, with an academic thrown into the mix, so it was interesting to hear from a media perspective. Jim Bankoff is not a name you widely hear of, but if you're a fan of reading sports and entertainment, then it's certain you've heard of SB Nation and TMZ, some of the publications he helped start. Got your attention now?
Jim started the talk with mentions of his background, as well as how he got started with working at AOL in developing their media strategies. As Jim put it, while the company was very much focused on getting more and more people online, his focus was creating the content that they would consume while online. That being said, it is obvious that Jim is a media tycoon, with his involvement in creating such huge media brands like TMZ and Vox Media, home to The Verge and SB Nation.
Jim's talk was certainly very insightful and full of quotable tidbits (as measured by the amount of tweets fired off during the chat). He touched upon mergers, and how they can add to a company's value. Additionally, Jim remarked that Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr was a "good decision."
Jim's remarks on the "changing tide" of business were particularly interesting. Nowadays, according to Jim, young people "get out of school and want to work for small businesses," a big departure from when working in more corporate environments was more desirable. He encourages people to go off and start their own ventures, but advises that "everyone needs [business] partners, whether or not you're a founder." He went on to say that you need to "find something no one else is doing, find your assets and use them."
Jim wrapped up by talking about media companies, saying that "starting a media company was hard five years ago, [almost] impossible ten years ago." These days especially, big companies are bogged down and trapped by company culture to innovate and transition to digital. To Jim, this is unfortunate, for "the Internet is awesome at selling us stuff."
Before presenting Jim with a Lou Gehrig action figure (Gehrig being his hero), Jim mentioned that there is "a lot going on [in DC], and that [Vox Media] is not moving anywhere else."
Written: Cedric Craig