- The Information has a staff of 35 today, but founder Jessica Lessin sees the tech publication becoming on a par with The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
- In 10 years, The Information could actually be spending more than those titles on journalism, she said.
- The Information sees a lot of potential to grow by covering tech’s intersection with business, and is hiring as fast as it ever has to feed that growth, she said.
- See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.
Jessica Lessin started subscription-based The Information five years ago. At the start, it was publishing just two stories a day focused on the tech industry. But Lessin has no intention of being small for long.
“Our ambition isn’t to build a subscription business — our goal is to build the most impactful news organization for the next century,” the former Wall Street Journal tech reporter told Business Insider. “Ten years from now, we could be spending more on journalism than The Wall Street Journal or New York Times. That may sound crazy, but newsrooms like The New York Times are probably spending $200 million or $100 million on original reporting. Being able to grow our revenue like that is very much the goal and in our sights and what we aspire to do.”
Read more: The Information made a splash with its high-priced subscription model, but its founder says it may experiment with ads this year
That might seem far-fetched today, given The Information has 35 people in all, including 24 in editorial. Lessin said The Information has in the “low tens of thousands” of subscribers. If we assume it has 20,000 subscribers paying $400 a year, the most popular tier, that’s $8 million in annual revenue.
Now, The Times is a $1.7 billion company. About half its revenue comes from advertising, which helps support its newsroom of 1,600 and growing — the Times added 120 journalists in 2018 alone.
Lessin says The Information has potential to apply its editorial stamp to many areas of business
The Information, meanwhile, eschews most kinds of advertising, which would seem to limit its growth.
But Lessin believes The Information still has big growth potential because it’s at its core about tech, which is intersecting with all kinds of businesses. In that way, it’s expanded its coverage to include finance, auto, legacy media, and policy.
Overseas coverage has become particularly important. Stories coming out of The Information’s Hong Kong bureau include pieces on Apple’s retail experience in China and the rise of ByteDance.
Lessin said the company is making hires across the board this year — to cover investigations, tech giants, finance, and on the business side, corporate subscriptions salespeople and engineers.
In February, The Information announced a new product, The Information Courses, which lets people sample articles, data, conference calls, and other information on a specific topic. It throws eight to 10 events a year for its subscribers. It’s adding a new one in June, The Information Women’s Conference, for up-and-coming women across industries.
“Our mission is always to be the most trusted source for the business world,” she said. “Understanding disruptive technology and its impact on business is the underlying theme of business. We’re just scratching the surface of people who are interested in all the news and data with tech eating every industry. We’re hiring as fast as we ever have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
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