News veterans Ben Smith, the media columnist for The New York Times, and Justin Smith, chief executive of Bloomberg’s media division, are leaving their jobs to start a company together.
The two men, who are not related, are looking to build a journalism platform that reaches educated English-speaking readers around the world.
“There are 200m people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience,” Ben Smith told The New York Times.
Investors continue to pour money into online media companies years after a venture capital-backed boom that spawned start-ups such a Vice and BuzzFeed, where Ben Smith previously served as editor-in-chief. Last year the news site Axios raised fresh cash valuing it at $430m, while German publisher Axel Springer paid about $1bn to buy Politico, the US political news site.
The amount of money the two men were looking to raise was not immediately clear. Justin Smith said it was a “personal dream and a market opportunity” to launch a “new kind of global news media company that serves unbiased journalism to a truly global audience”.
Bloomberg Media, the news division that sits within billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s financial data company, is one of the world’s largest employers of journalists with about 2,700 reporters and editors. As chief executive, Justin Smith has pursued new revenue lines such as consumer subscriptions and events. Before joining Bloomberg, he worked for The Economist and The Atlantic.
Ben Smith joined The New York Times in 2020, where he made his weekly column a must-read for people interested in the media business. A series of his reports revealed deceptive practices at media start-up Ozy Media, leading to regulator inquiries into the company.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Justin Smith was leaving Bloomberg.