Many find it overwhelming to know where to go for news basics – for analysis, not just facts. There is simply so much information available to us that trying to sift through it all is impossible. Thoughtful and reliable analysis is more valuable today than ever. TheSkimm is a daily email newsletter that arrives in your inbox every morning at 6am. It has a distinct and modern voice. It gives you the basics of what you need to know to be able to carry on a conversation about key current events. It is consistent and, because it is optimized for consumption on your smartphone, convenient.
Two Reasons theSkimm is a Digital Winner
TheSkimm creates value in two key ways:
- With the massive (and growing) amount of information available online, news consumers are seeking a trusted and curated news experience. Consumers want analysis not just facts. TheSkimm delivers that.
- News consumers also demand consistency and convenience. They want to fit their news consumption into their daily routine. They want their news to come to them, and not vice versa. TheSkimm delivers here too.
Analysis Trumps Facts
Technology has increased the speed and channels through which news can be transmitted. Twitter has completely redefined the concept of breaking news. But many news consumers place a premium on thoughtful and digestible analysis of news events. Consumers are seeking a dependable and authentic voice to help them make sense of everything – one that not only synthesizes information for us but also points us towards sources where we can continue our reading. One that helps us do the hard work of reading and comparing articles and opinions from a variety of sources. News aggregators, such as Flipboard and Pocket, capitalize on this in part. By adding its own editorial analysis to the links and content it presents each morning, theSkimm improves meaningfully on the basic aggregator experience.
Consistency and Convenience
Resilience in morning and evening TV news consumption habits demonstrates that the hours pre- and post-work are key timeslots for people in their pursuit of remaining informed.  Digital newsletters have been on the rise over the past few years to try to meet this consumer demand. Both established news organizations (e.g. the Wall Street Journal’s “The 10 Point” newsletter) and digital natives have launched newsletters (e.g. The Brief, Mic Check, Daily Beast’s Cheatsheet). TheSkimm began as a newsletter in 2012. So it is not only native to the Internet. It is actually a native newsletter, and the implications are clear: theSkimm delivers a more focused, consistent product than its peers. Its newsletters are not simple re-purposing of information published elsewhere. The company’s content is created for the newsletter format specifically. This in turn has helped theSkimm differentiate itself and earn a spot as a consistent part of its subscribers’ routine.
TheSkimm also goes to its subscribers rather than making readers come to them. That people’s overall media consumption continues to shift towards their smartphones (up from 3% in 2008 to an estimated 24% in 2015) is not surprising. 
It illustrates the value that can be created for people when they can consume content on their terms. With its email based newsletter, theSkimm was built from the beginning to fit into a format that we all consume daily. It’s an important distinction that puts consumers first. I, for example, often find myself reading theSkimm in the subway on my way to work. It fits into my schedule (again, not vice versa).
While theSkimm’s value creation is clear, its ability to capture value remains less certain. It was founded by two young ex-NBC female employees in 2012. It has raised $7.8 million in two rounds with the backing of RRE Ventures and Greycroft Partners. TheSkimm has about 1.5 million subscribers. The fundamental question is how does and will TheSkimm make money. Its current business model is based on advertising. The founders have said that its email open rate is 50% (higher than the average email newsletter of 10-15%).  For illustrative purposes, if one were to assume that the CPM for an ad insertion in one of theSkimm’s newsletter would fall in the range of $20-$100, it can then be estimated that theSkimm generates $15,000 to $75,000 per newsletter.  The founders have hinted that their vision is for theSkimm to be a “lifestyle” brand, not just a newsletter. Given Comcast’s recent investment in Buzzfeed and Vox, an acquisition or partnership with an established news media company seems like a logical next step for theSkimm to continue to expand its footprint.