This week in brand publishing:
- VC firm Paradigm creates nuanced content on crypto and web3. On a podcast, co-founder Matt Huang explained the strategy behind it.
- A16Z’s in-house publication Future is dipping its toe into how-to content with a guide to exit options.
- New research from Reuters Institute showed that newsrooms are having a hard time retaining talent in specific roles, particularly in data science. Expertise has become a competitive advantage for anyone in publishing.
- Speaking of data, more brands are using their own data and original research to fuel their content creation.
For Paradigm, content is a moat
On this week’s Odd Lots podcast, Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway spoke with Paradigm co-founder Matt Huang, who just announced a new $2.5 billion fund — the biggest crypto fund ever. Paradigm is probably the leader among companies investing in crypto startups. It was a fascinating conversation, but particularly interesting to hear how Huang is attempting to differentiate the firm by unpacking the nuances of crypto and by focusing on where the builders are.
A lot of VCs do content, but Paradigm has differentiated itself by not being afraid to write technically dense and in the weeds pieces on crypto, digital tokens, and web3 in general. Technical writing is possible for Paradigm because, as Weisenthal points out in the podcast, it has a lot of in-house technical expertise working on web3. Having those staffers — and showcasing that expertise via content — is a moat for Paradigm, Huang argued.
“Investors can always write tweet threads, but we thought we should go further,” says Huang, explaining why the firm employs staffers who aren’t just about business, but also understand the technologies behind crypto and web3 in general. And in crypto specifically, there is an element of VCs and funds now marketing themselves through content — Twitter, memes or writing. “Memes are a new way in which one can build a narrative around a vision,” says Huang. As we’ve written before, VC-publishers are quickly becoming the norm, and crypto, in particular, is also a good opportunity for brand publishers. Paradigm is a great example of these two trends colliding.
Future dips a toe into how-to content
A new guide on a16z’s Future focuses on exit options for companies — and outlines everything from traditional IPOs to direct listings. It’s written by two experts inside the VC company’s Capital network group, and focuses on the pros and cons of various options for founders.
Future has rarely done this before. Educational content is popular for brand publishers — it is a great way for them to demonstrate expertise in core subjects while also adding value for audiences. It’s an obvious play for the company, which has long touted its “founder-friendly” ethos, but feels like a step into new types of content from Future.
Newsrooms are having a hard time filling roles
New research from the Reuters Institute on newsrooms in 2021 found a majority of survey respondents (47%) have found that the pandemic has made recruiting and retention of journalists inside newsrooms more difficult. The hardest roles to fill for are in technology and data science skills.
Expertise has become a defining competitive advantage. For newsrooms, it is particularly difficult to hire, train and retain people with expert-level knowledge, particularly in a reality where cash-strapped media organizations offer lower level compensation than other companies. It’s a gap that could lead to more brands snapping up journalists with specialized skills and offering them above-market rates to work at brands.
Brands see an opportunity in data journalism
Most companies have access to unique and interesting data, or the ability to tap their products and customer bases to obtain it. For years companies have used aggregated client information, surveys and case studies to fuel their PR initiatives, sharing information with data-hungry reporters and media companies to drive press coverage.
But a shift is underway as brands attempt to communicate directly with audiences using content. One place it’s showing up is how many companies are investing in high-quality, original research, and hiring data journalists to run it. Read more on how brands should think about data.
Other noteworthy reads:
- The Chernin Group’s increased focus on blockchain-based companies mirrors the media companies TCG has already helped build. The parallels between building content businesses and helping web3 companies are striking. Fast Company profiles how the company wants to accelerate the adoption of web3.
- “The creator industrial complex” and how having too many resources and too much content might be a bad thing, by Nadia Eghbal.