Digital publishing veterans lead new ventures; ScrollMotion launches new creative agency
Joshua Topolsky lands $5M in funding to launch new digital media brand, The Outline, that will cover politics, business culture and ‘the future’
The news in publishing of late has been more about layoffs and closings than launches. So, it was good to see this morning the news of two new ventures being announced that were digital publishing related
ScrollMotion Blue will be a creative agency led by Doug Pierce, President/Chief Operating Officer, and Joe Zeff (above), President/Chief Creative Officer.
Zeff joined ScrollMotion almost exactly two years ago, closing his pioneering app studio which was the design force behind such great apps as Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz and Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary, aa well as the first apps for PC Magazine and Kids Discover.
At the time he announced the closing of Joe Zeff Design Zeff said that the “next frontier for phones and tablets is the workplace,” the area of emphasis of ScrollMotion.
“What’s sometimes hard for companies, from our experience, is content,” Zeff wrote today on the new agency’s website.
“Content is what makes tablets come alive. It is the catalyst for customer engagement, the conveyor of interactive training, the currency of business presentations. But for many companies, that content is strangled inside dense PowerPoints and scattered across the Internet. Fusillades of bullet points that stop innovation dead in its tracks,” Zeff said.
The launch of a creative agency appears to mean that the company will now will be divided into two divisions, with the software business unit of ScrollMotion being led by Alan Braun. Braun worked as Senior Development Manager at IBM for four years before moving to Apple in 2010. He then joined ScrollMotion earlier this year as Chief Technology Officer and Executive VP of Product.
A new gig for Topolsky isn’t itself news, he has moved a round a bit since leaving Engadget in 2011 – launching The Verge late in 2011, joining Bloomberg in 2014, and then leaving one year later.
The news is that he has managed to get $5 million in funding for the venture, led by RRE Ventures.
“Mr. Topolsky is touting The Outline as something of the antidote to a rising crop of digital media brands that are reliant on social media distribution and, in his mind, are too focused on reaching massive user totals,” Mike Shields of the WSJ reported,
“I really want to move away from the impressions-based way of judging success,” Topolsky told Shields. “We want to focus on the best way to tell a story. Digital media has millions of colors to paint with, and most of the time we only use like four.”
Good news. I'm alive.
— The Outline (@outline) August 1, 2016
According to the WSJ, the new site has already hired ten staffers including Amanda Hale as had of revenue. Hale comes over from Talking Points Memo where she was associate publisher. Before joining TPM in 2013, Hale was Advertising Director at The Nation.
Its editorial focus will be politics and business, culture, and “the future” – whatever that is supposed to mean.
The new website is not live now, with only a ‘coming soon’ sort of page available, but readers can sign up and be notified when the site will go live. If you do sign up, you’ll receive an email that also points readers to a Medium post that explains Topolsky’s thinking regarding digital publishing. Hint, he is no fan of today’s obsession with video and audience aggregation.
“The media industry now largely thinks its only working business model is to reach as many people as possible, and sell — usually programmatically, but sometimes not — as many advertisements against that audience as it can. If they tell you otherwise, they are lying,” Topolsky wrote this spring.
“They are also wrong, I believe, in the long run.”
I think he has correctly identified how many executives think today, and how wrong they are. But whether he has answers will be tested very soon.