Business models, Podcasts, Publishers, Strategy

Skift CEO Rafat Ali on paid content and the perils of VC funding

This week we hear from Rafat Ali, co-founder and CEO of boutique travel publisher Skift. We spoke about what connects the dots between paid content, travel, dining and wellness, his belief in trendlines not headlines, his long-term aspirations for Skift vs short-term VC plays, and why he wants to be useless to his business.

In the news round-up we put a bow on the discussion about Waitrose Magazine’s editor quitting over comments he made to a freelancer, discuss whether Channel 4’s move to Leeds will pop the London media bubble, and decide whether Facebook is more powerful than the British parliament.

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In our own words: Peter Houston

Spend any time looking at @Rafat Ali’s Twitter feed and you’ll get the impression of a man on a mission, maybe even a slightly angry man on a mission. Spend any time listening to him and you get the same sense of mission, but there’s a thoughtful calm there that Twitter – even in 240 characters – obscures.

Rafat’s first success was in turning a personal blog into a business that he sold to the Guardian after just six years. The driving force behind what became Paid Content is evident in what he’s doing now with Skift, his six-year old travel intelligence business.

At the core, these media start-ups have been all about spotting trends in a frantic day-to-day business news environment, helping busy professionals develop a broader understanding of the commercial landscape they work in: “Trendlines not headlines”.

Its that long view that informs Rafat’s rage against the short-termism of VC funding, platform plays and the mindless chasing of scale. Patience is a virtue to Rafat and he thinks that’s in depressingly short supply among modern media managers.

Fuelling Rafat’s mission is his consumption of business books and he was kind enough to share his reading list with us. Just head over to Goodreads and check out the 190 plus books he’s read and the other 100 he wants to.

And although Paid Content is long gone, Rafat is still on the case of mismanaged media, writing on Mediumabout his business-building philosophy. He wants to show that there is another way of doing things, outside of the mainstream, outside of the scale-based media.

“Hopefully,” he says, “If I do have an evangelising function then that is my evangelising function.”

 


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