It seems like everyone has a plan to save The New York Times, but TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington proposed something a little different today: The best writers should just quit and start their own blog.
“If the top 50 journalists out of The New York Times walked out the door, raised $100 million from a hedge fund and started a site, it would be profitable.” Arrington said, speaking at the AlwaysOn Summit at Stanford.
The idea here is because that The Times has built up such an inefficient, old media infrastructure with astronomically higher costs, it would be better if the best writers started fresh. Keep in mind that Arrington isn’t exactly an objective observer. It makes sense that he’d want writers to abandon The New York Times, since he has had spats with the paper before. (Then again, we here at VentureBeat are big supporters of the leave-a-newspaper-start-a-blog career path — Matt Marshall founded the site after leaving The San Jose Mercury News, and most of our other writers, including me, have done time at daily papers.)
So what can those top 50 writers learn from Arrington’s business model? Well, they’d better enjoy throwing conferences. Arrington said only 10 to 20 percent of of TechCrunch’s revenue comes from normal advertising on the website, while 50 percent comes from conferences. (Yes, I know these parts don’t add up to 100 percent.)
“We don’t think of our business in terms of creating page views and figuring out RPM [revenue per 1,000 impressions],” he added. “We’ve always had a brand and we’ve always monetized the brand. We’ve always focused on keeping costs under control and we’ve grabbed the biggest money we could, while still being ethical.”
TechCrunch also has a research arm that has a “substantial” amount of revenue from quarterly reports on start-up financing. But he said it “doesn’t seem like a long-term win. It’s sort of like selling music. People put it up on Bit Torrent.”
Oh, and unrelated to business models, here’s another Arrington nugget from the conference: “I often have some disdain for my readers.” I know how you feel, Mike. I have some disdain for TechCrunch readers, too.