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Subscription-Based Org Charts Are an Interesting Recruiting Tool...

If you're a consumer of news, one of the things you've seen in the past is that there's a trend towards the best news outlets creating paywalls and trying to get you to pay for a digital subscription.  The game plan at the Washington Post, New York Times and other outlets is to give you something like 10 free articles a month on your phone, then stop access and make you pay.

Have you paid the fee?  Me either, but I'm always doing the math in my head if I should.  If the content is good enough (and maybe more importantly if the SEO moves the source to the Information top repeatedly), I'm always inclined to consider paying.  Another trend in digital journalism is to create a deep, deep coverage level of a small niche and then ask the readers with hyper interest in that niche to pay for the coverage.  That's the plan at a source called "The Information".  Here's a description of that news outlet:

Jessica Lessin, a 33-year-old former Wall Street Journal reporter, has created a tech news site, The Information, which could become a new digital model at a time when ad-supported Web news is in need of an economic lifeline. 

The Information has gained notice for its contrarian, old-school approach to digital news, which includes a no-joke $399 paywall, relatively scant attention to social media (at least when compared to other digital-first news sites), and a newsroom ethos that encourages reporters to write fewer, deeper stories, as opposed to a constant drip of quick, often thinly reported hits. The Information’s sweet spot is the serious pursuit of business news: Snap Inc.’s IPO plans, the boardroom travails at Uber, an investigation into the founder of Nest Lab.

I'm interested in The Information because there's a lot of interesting HR and recruiting stories in the valley.  In addition, one of the recurring features they have is basically underground reporting of the top 2-3 levels in any company, which is a bit of a an org chart on HGH - below is a picture of how they teased the org chart of the people who matter the most at self-driving car company, Waymo (click through if you don't see the image below):

TheInformationOrgChartDive

If you're a recruiter in a niche industry, my sense is that you would pay $399 a year for the an org chart like this every two weeks alone - to say nothing of the other features and deep reporting on an industry you're trying to rip talent from.

The question is whether sources like The Information can survive in a world of free.  See the box top left - $400 per month across 10,000 subscribers = 4M in revenue.

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