On Friday, Henry Blodget, editorial director, shared thoughts on the company with Insider Inc. staff.
Great to see so many of you this week at the All-Hands. Congratulations again on our amazing 2017. This note recaps some of what we covered in the meeting and goes into a bit more depth.
Last year was one of the best years in our history.
We continued to strengthen our journalism and storytelling. We expanded our global editorial team to 330 journalists (including 80 at our licence partners). We grew our audience and engagement to new records. We rebuilt our technology platforms to speed up our pages, accelerate our publishing and innovation, and support our increasing scale. We grew our revenue more than 45%. We also designed, built, and moved into our new global headquarters.
A decade into our existence, we serve a global monthly audience of more than 400 million people, nearly halfway to our long-term goal of 1 billion. Our stories generate more than 5 billion views a month. Our on-site audience, as measured by comScore, grew to 144 million uniques. Our social followers now surpass 100 million. We have a global team of 488 colleagues – 243 men and 245 women. We have three thriving revenue streams. Our publishing and distribution platforms are among the best in the industry.
In short, we had a great finish to a remarkable first decade. We have also built a strong foundation for the next 10 years and beyond.
Our greatest strength is our journalism and storytelling.
Business Insider remains the world’s favourite business news brand, surpassing 135 million global uniques for the first time. Some stand-out stories last year include Hayley Peterson on the implosion of Sears; a multimedia series called “Un-dividing America”; and interviews with John Kasich, governor of Ohio and 2016 GOP presidential candidate; Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; and Rick Rieder, who oversees $US1.7 trillion as Global Chief Investment Officer of fixed income at BlackRock. We visited performance guru Tony Robbins at his house in Fiji and swam in his favourite waterfall. We even test-drove a Tesla Model X across America.
Our editorial team continued to innovate, debuting a podcast series, several successful episodic series and Facebook Watch programs, and new verticals like “Cars Insider.” We launched our first mobile TV show, “The Bottom Line,” a social- and digital-first program covering finance and markets, presented by Fidelity. We added “summary bullets” to our stories, making our experience more convenient and saving our readers time. We held our eighth annual IGNITION conference, which many attendees said was our best ever. We grew our new market data and news site, Markets Insider, more than 20% a month and saw an eightfold increase in pageviews. We launched our first consumer subscription service, “BI Prime,” which is already off to an excellent start.
In the UK, Business Insider remained the No. 1 UK business site (per comScore), and generated more than 300 million monthly video views. Our notable UK scoops included exposing Theresa May’s connection to offshore tax-avoidance schemes, unearthing Boris Johnson’s record of sexist and homophobic remarks, and showing how “pump and dump” scammers can manipulate the white-hot crypto ICO market.
Our industry research service, Business Insider Intelligence – the digital-disruption experts – ended the year with our best-ever new sales quarter and a jump in renewal rates. BII also debuted a 20,000-person “Insiders” research panel. The panel allows our analysts to conduct proprietary customer, product, and brand surveys, and analyse trends in real time.
Our general-interest brand, INSIDER, which we launched in 2015, continued its rapid growth and innovation. INSIDER is a pioneer in social video and ended the year with more than 60 million social followers and 2.5 billion monthly video views. INSIDER created and produced several episodic video series, including “Cool! But does it really work?” and the monster hit, “The Great Cheese Hunt.” INSIDER launched Spanish and Portuguese editions. INSIDER also won Digiday’s “Best on Instagram” award and doubled its on-site audience.
On the business side, our diversified revenue approach is working well. We have three major revenue streams – advertising, subscriptions, and licensing – and all three grew strongly in 2017. Our revenue growth allowed us to grow our editorial and technology budgets more than we had planned, while still significantly exceeding our EBITDA target.
We offer two advertising solutions to our clients: premium programmatic advertising and strategic content partnerships. Our programmatic capabilities continue to lead the industry, delivering exceptional performance and efficiency and allowing our clients to reach our affluent audience in a high-quality content environment at scale. Our strategic partnerships included major custom programs with Dell, Microsoft, Fidelity, Bacardi, Chase, Del Monte, Netflix, and many others. We pride ourselves on the performance of these programs, which we design to help clients achieve their marketing goals. Our success can be seen in our strong renewal rates.
With many clients seeking global marketing solutions, we also launched our global sales services in 2017. In Europe, where we publish eight local editions of Business Insider, we grew our pan-European partnerships by 44%. More broadly, the launch of BI Spain and BI Japan brought our total editions to 16 across 22 countries. We now publish in nine languages, and our international audience is now nearly as large as our US audience.
Our product and technology teams continued to rebuild our publishing, distribution, and analytics platforms in 2017, moving us toward a more flexible “micro-services” architecture. Our new systems increase our publishing speed and make our pages and videos load faster, providing a better experience for our audience. Our new architecture will also allow us to innovate more quickly.
In 2017, our teams also rebuilt our subscription platform, video players, and image-management system, and redesigned our graphics and sites.
Name change and new global headquarters
We moved into our new headquarters, in New York City, in early January. We now have oceans of space, state-of-the-art video and sound studios and, by popular request, plenty of phone booths and conference rooms. We also changed the name of our company to Insider Inc. to reflect our ongoing expansion beyond business.
Our mission is simple: to inform and inspire our audience, help our clients, and get better every day.
Some trends in our industry remain challenging, but as we demonstrated last year, we are up to these challenges. We have exciting things planned for 2018 and beyond. And the new year is already off a good start.
Thanks and congratulations to all of you. Keep up the great work.
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