Business Insider

News broke yesterday that Business Insider would be opening an office in the UK after securing a $12 million investment.

And just hours later, Julie Hansen, the outlet's president and chief operating officer, was speaking at the Digital Media Strategies conference, with a presentation on mobile growth and strategy.

Asked about the investment, she explained that, as well as the UK launch, the money would be spend on "the core product, in hiring more editors, more video-makers" as well as "content-creators broadly" and the sales and content marketing teams.

The company also plans to use the funds to "invest heavily in [its] subscription business" and "ongoing web operations", adding that the past year has been strong for the business, and so the company wants "to fuel that fire".

As for the introduction of a UK team, Hansen told Journalism.co.uk that there were a number of reasons why the Insider was keen to set up in the UK.

For a start, UK traffic to the site is "significant", she said, and there is the added benefit that the US and UK "share a language".

But she also stressed the importance of the city's financial sector. "London is – with all due respect to my friends in New York – arguably the financial capital of the world," she said.

"If we're a business publication we need to care about that very much. We're very excited about the 24/7, or 24/5, opportunity that we get from publishing out of London".

But she added, a key factor in the decision is the desire to join what she described as what "may be the most sophisticated media market in the world".

"It is incredible what you have here," she said. "Four daily newspapers in London. It's amazing."

It's a very media-savvy country and culture, there's a lot of talent here, there's a lot of opportunityJulie Hansen, Business Insider
"So on the one hand, it's a very media-savvy country and culture, there's a lot of talent here, there's a lot of opportunity.

"And in the business space, there hasn't been a lot of change, so we think we've got a really – particularly in business – great opportunity to come in and provide a new service."

Hansen had been taking a look at potential locations for the new office during her visit to London, and said that the new UK team will be opening up "close to a dozen" jobs, both editorial and commercial.

"We're looking the hire the head of that now," she said, "and it will all flow from there."

As for the editorial production, the UK version of the site "will be a lot like the US", she explained, "except it will have local UK and Euro content".

And she is keen for the content to retain the typical Business Insider "voice", as she explained has been achieved with Business Insider Australia, "a partnership we did with Alert Media in Australia, who are now owned by Fairfax". That has "given us a lot of courage", she said.

"They're a licensee, so it's a different business model, but they have just done just a fantastic job with our brand where they take the right content from the US, they don't use the irrelevant content. They've created terrific local content, in our voice, so good that our editors are routinely republishing their content in the US.

"That is what I want to happen in London as well."

On the first day of the Digital Media Strategies conference, chief executive of the Financial Times John Ridding was asked for his thoughts on digital-only outlets such as Business Insider and Quartz. Ridding told delegates that the FT "can learn a lot from new players out there".

Also reflecting on the arrival of Quartz, Hansen said it has been "in a way, a validation, coming from a publisher as accomplished as the Atlantic, [of] the idea that there's an appetite for smart business content in digital form".

Mobile strategy

During her keynote speech, which closed the conference on Wednesday (5 March), Hansen outlined the impact of mobile on Business Insider, claiming that mobile versus desktop is now 50/50 in terms of traffic, later adding that the iPhone has been "significant" in "powering the growth".

She added that while it may not reach 70/30 "in the short-term", she does expect the balance to tilt to some degree.

"Could it go a little higher? Yes, it probably will based on the trending we’re seeing."

She added that their success on mobile could be linked, in part, to the regularity of "shorter articles" on the site, which may be "easier to read and share on mobile".

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk after the conference, she added that while the site also publishes long articles, including "a 22,000-word piece this past year", and very short image-led pieces, "in general, we feel that our appetite for content is shorter".

"We want snacks, we don't have time. So we try to make sure that we are still making our audience smart, but keeping it snappy."

Having said that, she stressed that Business Insider is not "mobile-first". "We think the digital world is multi-screen", she said.

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