Washington Post taps its former CMO to lead publishing tech division

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The Washington Post has hired Mickey King, the company’s former chief marketing officer—who most recently served as president of Genius Media Group—to run The Post’s Ark XP publishing-tech arm.

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why it matters: The hire underscores Post’s commitment to developing its software arm as a significant revenue stream to support its journalism.

  • Post currently makes most of its money from ads and subscriptions, but software sales are fast becoming the third major business line for the company.

Catch up quickly: The Washington Post launched Arch Publishing in 2015 as an in-house tech division that built and licensed publishing software to other media companies.

  • Today, it serves a range of businesses, including sports teams, cryptocurrency companies, and financial services firms, in addition to media and entertainment publishers.
  • Many of the customers it serves are focusing more on transactions between businesses and consumers. This year Arch XP added e-commerce and video hosting capabilities.
  • Earlier this year, Arch Publishing rebrand For the Arc XP to reflect its wider focus. Arc XP’s products are cloud-based and rely heavily on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
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description: Starting officially on November 29, King says that next year he aims to accelerate the growth of Arc XP’s sales team and grow the business globally.

  • Arc XP currently serves customers in 28 countries and most US states. King says Ark XP is looking to expand further into Latin America and Western Europe, as well as Africa. It currently serves customers Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Korea And this United Arab Emirates, in addition to hundreds of local news sites and businesses in the US.
  • Much of King’s experience at Genius, which was recently acquired by Santa Monica-based MediaLab, was working with enterprise clients. That focus will turn to her new role in The Post.
  • “Arc XP’s goal is really to help brands optimize their digital presence,” King said. She noted that developing products that support everything from cryptocurrencies to sports betting is going to be inevitable.
  • “We are in the early stages of betting and gambling,” she said. “This is a place where there could be an opportunity for us, but the talks have so far been preliminary.”
  • King will report to both publisher and CEO Fred Ryan and Chief Information Officer Shailesh Prakash. Scott Gillespie will continue to be CTO and GM of Arch XP.

By numbers: Currently, according to The Post, Arc XP’s technology is licensed to more than 1,900 sites, up from about 1,500 in April.

  • King says he expects Ark XP to bring in $100 million in revenue “over the next 3-5 years.”
  • About 250 people work for Arc XP alone per King. For reference, The Post has about 1,000 journalists.
  • “Post has really doubled down on expanding the corporate functions dedicated to Arc XP, including human resources, legal, finance and analysis roles,” she said.
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Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos Ark XP and The Post’s ed tech division, Zeus Technology, have both thrown their weight behind them.

  • “As we moved from news publishers to venture, it was of great interest and supported by Jeff Bezos,” King said. “He has been involved in pretty much every major strategic decision related to Ark XP.”
  • The Washington Post Chief Revenue Officer Joy Robbins told axios Zeus Technology’s work in September will “easily” reach nine figures in revenue next year.

big picture: Several media companies, including Vox Media and Minute Media, have launched tech businesses in recent years to fund journalism.

  • But King says they aren’t The Post’s biggest competitor. “I often find that our biggest competition is the tendency for organizations to want to go it alone,” she said.
  • He added that Arch XP also sees opportunities to provide strategic insights and advisory services to companies that build their own software.

what to watch: While it’s long been rumored that one day The Post might spin off Ark XP, King says that isn’t in the cards for now.

  • “To date, my role has not been tied to an exit strategy,” she said. “The conversations with our leadership team have really been about how we can accelerate growth.”
  • “Arc is well on its way to becoming a $100 million company, I don’t think it’s on its way to a spin-off, but we’ll see how things pan out.”

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