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To Reach Lofty Goals, The Messenger Touts a Modest Strategy



Although recent years have seen the launch of a number of ambitious media ventures, few have raised more eyebrows than The Messenger.

The general news publisher, which is set to debut next month, has drawn scrutiny for its aggressive roadmap, which mandates it hire 550 journalists, crack $100 million in revenue and top 100 million monthly visitors by the end of next year.

Founded by media veteran Jimmy Finklestein, The Messenger has raised $50 million in financing, making it one of the most highly capitalized media startups in recent memory. In a mordant twist, last month it used a part of that allowance to acquire Grid, itself a once-promising media startup.

But while the size, scope and speed of its ascent have inspired incredulity, the core appeal of The Messenger is deceptively modest. By charting a centrist political tack, the publisher aims to attract a broad audience and create a depolarized environment for its advertisers.

“We want to be as far to the right as the liberals will read,” said Richard Beckman, president of The Messenger and the former president of Condé Nast, “and as far to the left as the conservatives will read.”

While The Messenger positions this bipartisan approach as a source of differentiation, a number of publishers, including CNN and Semafor, have recently adopted a similar strategy.

The publisher distinguishes itself, however, in other arenas of its business.

For instance, while many media startups have lately embraced a lightweight model, growing from a niche audience through direct channels like email, The Messenger touts a product whose success lies in achieving and maintaining vast scale, an increasingly elusive goal. 

A screenshot of The Messenger’s home page design. The company will gradually introduce its nine verticals over the course of the year.The Messenger

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