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Sept. 26, 2016, 6 a.m.
Reporting & Production

This: Vox.com hires Andrew Golis as its first general manager

“He is going to be tasked with thinking about what are the big swings that we want to take in the next few years.”

Vox Media on Monday said that it had created a new position, general manager of Vox.com, and it’s filling it with Andrew Golis, the founder of the now-shuttered startup This and The Atlantic’s former entrepreneur-in-residence.

As Vox.com’s GM, Golis will work with the site’s product and business teams, along with other Vox Media properties, to figure out the best ways to grow the site. “He is going to be tasked with thinking about what are the big swings that we want to take in the next few years,” Vox Media publisher Melissa Bell told me.

Vox.com has grown dramatically since it launched in 2014. The site now has close to 80 staffers, up from about 20 or 30 when it launched, Bell said. (Vox Media employs about 700 in all.) At the same time, several of the site’s original leaders have moved into new roles within the site and company. Bell, a Vox.com cofounder, was named publisher of all of Vox Media in July, and Matthew Yglesias, another cofounder, has moved into more of a writing role for Vox.com.

“It’s an evolution of some the work that I was doing and some of the work that Matt was doing. It’s going to be fleshed out by Andrew’s experience and background. But it’s a role that we’ve taken inspiration from other companies, from our technology groups,” Bell said.

“We think of ourselves as a product company at Vox Media, and if you abstract the brand of Vox as the product, what do we do to develop that product out even further? How do you take ownership over it and think about the strategy for moving it forward?” she continued. “By using and applying the techniques of technology teams, essentially: doing user research, making sure that you understand what your audience opportunity is, putting a plan in place that says here are all the tools we have to try this new venture, evaluating it against revenue opportunities and impact opportunities, and then putting that all together and helping drive that further.”

Golis most recently founded and led This, a beloved-by-media-cognoscenti social network that let users only share one link per day. This shut down in July. “We worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion, struggled to raise money and just ran out of time,” Golis wrote in his post announcing the platform’s closure.

Bell said there a number of ways how Vox.com is looking to expand its business and editorial reach. The site held its first conference, Vox Conversations, in Washington last week, and she said it’s planning on holding other events “in the near future.” Vox is also looking at ways to expand its video and audio offerings, including on Amazon’s Alexa platform for audio and over-the-top video.

On the revenue side, Vox recently sold its first sponsored card stack, and Bell said “we really want to make sure what we’re doing over the next years…fosters…quality storytelling.” Last year, the company received a $200 million investment from NBCUniversal.

One other way Vox is looking to grow is internationally. This month, the company named Jonathan Hunt as its VP of international.

“That’s just one more opportunity that we’re thinking about,” Bell said. “I spent a lot of my early career in India, and I have been so excited about the chance for us to expand abroad, but we want to make sure that we’re doing that in a way that serves the audiences in each country and be thoughtful about it. That’s something that I really appreciate in Jim Bankoff’s approach to everything that we do at the company. We’re interested in this. There are a lot of different models for how to do this well and how to do this smartly, so we’re really just in the exploratory phase of: What are the approaches for us? What are the things we can do? What are the right countries we should be looking at and experimenting with?”

Photo by David Zhou used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Sept. 26, 2016, 6 a.m.
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