It turns out media companies don’t make for very good tech companies
The Rebooting writes about the death of the “platisher”
Of course, developing proprietary tech is the normal course of many businesses. When you come up with problems somewhat unique to your business and without any easy off-the-shelf solution, you build it yourself. The problem comes when this goes from being a tool use to further the core business and leadership gets SaaS margin dreams. Software businesses are valued far higher than content businesses, especially those reliant on the ups and downs of advertising.
That led plenty of publishers down the primrose path of spinning up SaaS arms for their homegrown CMS. New York magazine attempted to license its CMS, called Clay. Vox Media has licensed its CMS, Chorus. Minute Media used its CMS licensing business as a key part of its $40 million funding round in 2020. It’s unsurprising that following Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington Post in 2011 that he sought to inject a tech mindset into the company. One results: Arc, a homegrown CMS product the Post would license to other publishers, like the Boston Globe and Slate. As recently as 2019, in a headline I very well might have written, Digiday detailed a “CMS war between Vox Media and The Washington Post.”