The New Stack: Largely Immunized

Celebrating its sixth anniversary this Spring, The New Stack has built a successful tech edit franchise without relying upon web advertising or subscription revenue. Founder and publisher Alex Williams relies instead on sponsored posts, podcasts and ebooks dedicated to deep-tech education and professional development -- augmented by news and analysis from staff editors and contributors.
 
Unlike his alma mater TechCrunch and other tech edit rivals, Alex didn't build a F2F event business that the Covid-19 virus could jeopardize. 
 
Covid-19 is "impactful for everyone," Alex says. "What it boils down to is, 'How do we support our sponsors?'"
 
Alex does have a bit of exposure in that TNS, for a sponsorship fee, offers to stage pancake breakfasts as part of F2F tech events here and abroad. The formula: 30 minutes of pancakes followed by 60 minutes of tech discussion framed by the sponsor. TNS also can deliver at-the-event podcasting, again for a fee. 
 
Overall, this ad-free, sponsorship-only formula has worked well for TNS and others -- notably Diginomica and the Packet Pushers podcast network. The New Stack lists 38 sponsors on its sponsors page (Diginomica has 21, Packet Pushers 20), all of whom have ponied up at one time or another to affiliate with Alex's "news and research publishing company that focuses on the management and development of 'at-scale' technologies." 
 
For PR, pitching the New Stack is possible but never easy. The road to coverage runs through managing editor Joab Jackson, now in his third decade in tech journalism. The New Stack accepts both contributed and paid content. Read the rules on the unpaid: no more than one post every three months and it had better be insightful.
 
A fee of $29K buys an unlimited number of paid posts, measured by newly developed analytics that track dwell time as well as the basics. The New Stack shares the posts on its Twitter feed; sponsors also get to place their RSS feeds on The New Stack site. 
 
TNS prices its podcasts separately. A day of podcasting at a remote site -- in which TNS interviews guests suggested by the sponsor -- runs $25K. Palo Alto Networks was a recent sponsor.
 
Adds Alex: "We also can [produce podcasts] virtually and be very effective." 
 
As a publisher, that's a good place to be these days. The jointly-held KubeCon and CloudNativeCon shows were postponed from this month to sometime in July or August because of Covid-19 concerns. So for now, Alex will have to wait for his event-related revenues. But he has no show of his own, nor any of the headaches that can accrue; can you imagine all the lawyers who will feast on the SxSW cancellation?
 
Having a flexible business model through paid posts and podcasts gives The New Stack a level of immunity that other tech publishers wish they had. 
 
And that, in turn, can alter who has the edit authority out there — and the staying power.
Journalists are leaving media brands every week. Read the fruits of 16 confidential interviews with journalists now working at tech brands or PR agencies, and five interviews with the executives who hired these journalists.
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