VIA BEETCAM — He helped found Wired and The Industry Standard, two of digital business’ totemic publications.

So, when John Batelle launches something new, people sit up and take notice. That’s what Batellte has done again in launching The Recount

Delivered in videos under five minutes and launched alongside journalist John Heilemann, The Recount already has a mailing list audience of 50,000 and aims to focus on politics in the 2020 presidential election year. At least, that was the aim until coronavirus hit.

“The two are now mashed together,” Batelle says in this video interview with Beet.TV. “This story is getting incredibly political, the coronavirus story, so our newsroom has never been hotter in terms of their work in 24/7. We’re putting out a work every day, multiple times a day.

“We work with sponsors. We had a launch sponsor in the Bank of America and in Slack and a few others. We have an events business, which you can imagine is going virtual now, and we create high-quality intellectual property that we distribute for revenue.

“We’re in conversations with several dozen different distribution endpoints and the business models are varied. Some of them like the Rokus and the Plutos and the other streamers of the world have revenue-share models where they bring in advertising and you bring the content. Others have both that and the ability for our sales team to sell into their environment.

“We have our own owned-and-operated app and site where we can sell integrated sponsorships. We have a really nice newsletter business that’s just begun to pop, where we’ve built over 50,000 subscribers in a very short amount of time and we expect that to grow significantly.”

The Recount is funded by a $13 million investment from Fred Wilson‘s Union Square Ventures, plus involvement from True Ventures, ViacomCBS and Burda Prinipcal Investments.

Batelle says it’s a “time of great experimentation in the media business” – or at least, he criticizes “traditional media” for not experimenting enough.

He acknowledges many peers would brand him “insane” for launching a media business in the current ecology.

But Batelle and co-owner Heilemann have a history of changing the ecology around their products. Together, they worked at Wired and at Hotwired, the magazine’s pioneering mid-90s website, which is credited with having sold the first banner ad and carrier out early, format-bending forays in to online-only journalism.

“We have a team of a little over 30 now – of which, two thirds are journalists and everybody is working remotely,” says Batelle.

“With Slack, with Zoom, with Hangouts and all the other tools, we’re putting out some of our best work ever, so it’s exciting.”

Batelle was interviewed remotely at home via the BeetCam powered by Zoom.

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