November 20, 2015 Last Updated 10:03 am

Tribune Publishing brings on two NYT digital veterans, Rajiv Pant and Mohit Pandey, as publisher’s digital center shifts eastward

Pant had left The New York Times to join Vinit Bharara’s start-up Some Spider, but now he and his fellow NYT app veteran are joining Tribune Publishing to help drive the company’s ‘digital transformation’

This summer Vinit Bharara made news when he nabbed a couple of NYT tech pros, hiring away the paper’s Chief Technology Officer Rajiv Pant and also acting head of digital Paul Smurl for his start-up Some Spider LLC. Bharara was the co-founder of Quidsi, known for its website, which was sold to Amazon for $540 million in 2010.


Rajiv Pant

Smurl is now COO & President at Some Spider, but Pant’s stay at the company didn’t last the year as Tribune Publishing announced this week that he had come over to be Tribune Publishing’s first Chief Product, Technology and User Experience Officer.

At the time of the Pant’s move to the start-up he explained why he was leaving the NYT:

“I love The Times and its vision, and cherished my four years there,” Pant said. “But, there was something missing in my career. I had been in CTO roles at four major media companies, with accomplishments I was proud of. However, I didn’t want my 3 year old son Fitz Raj to know me for only being a successful corporate executive, but for accomplishing something significant for the greater good.”

Also joining Pant at Tribune Publishing will be Mohit Pandey, who has been Executive Director, Mobile Engineering where he worked on the NYT’s app initiatives.

This might mean a major change in focus on Tribune Publishing’s digital side, where their apps are abysmal – unimaginative news apps and PDF replica editions. (If they can help rework their websites, this would be good, too.)

ChiTrib-replicaBut it should be remembered, that the NYT has not been very innovative when it comes to apps, either – it’s recent launch of NYT VR aside (and how much of the credit there really should go to IM360?). The NYT’s iPad app launched in 2010 and has barely changed much since.

(There has been a major reshuffling of the deck recently when it comes to technology talent. Nick Rockwell went from Condé Nast to The New York Times to become chief technology officer, and Marc Frons left the NYT this summer to join News Corp as Deputy Head of Technology.)

Pant and Pandey are not the only former NYT managers now at Tribune Publishing, of course. Denise Warren, who worked at the NYT for 26 years, is currently President of Digital at Tribune Publishing (as well as CEO East Coast Papers). Warren served as executive vice president of digital products and services since April 2013, but a major reshuffling at the Times followed Mark Thompson’s hiring as CEO and Warren’s position was eliminated.

With these hires, it appears that Tribune Publishing’s digital center has shifted east as both new hires, as well as Warren, will remain in NYC.

This news will certainly sting for those part of the recent round of layoffs the company implemented – about 500 positions or around 7 percent of the staff, according to the AP. While tech remains very much based on the west coast, most legacy publishing companies base their tech on the east coast. Not that this isn’t an option, of course, but as someone who used to work on the west coast for east coast-based Hearst and McGraw-Hill, I just continue to find this odd (and I know west coast techies do, as well).

Here is Tribune Publishing’s announcement on its new appointments.

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