The New Republic: Effectively aligning business and operating models amidst critics

The shift in strategy at The New Republic has been a highly controversial topic in the media over the last twelve months. Chris Hughes, owner, and CEO, Guy Vidra, have set out to reinvent the 100 year old political journal into a mission-driven media organization which promotes novel solutions for today’s most critical issues. [1] Despite what critics have said about this decision, management at The New Republic have set out to design an operating model that more effectively meets this positioning statement than their prior model.

Chris Hughes has made some interesting decisions and statements in the years since he purchased The New Republic in 2012. He initially supported the core product, a print magazine, and focused on strengthening it. However, his focus quickly evolved leading him to making statements such as, “The New Republic can no longer be just a magazine. We are a media company that produces live events featuring our staff and other experts, a responsive website designed for social conversations and a mobile life, audio versions of all of our work, a cutting-edge tablet app, and, of course, 20 print issues a year. We provide access to all of our products for one price to make it as simple as possible to subscribe.” [Speech at Harvard, 2013] [2]

Hughes’ confusion, and perceived deception, on the mission of the magazine and company led to dissatisfaction amongst employees and a large walk out in December 2014. Many of the core staff left the company and the media was calling it the ‘death of the New Republic.’ [3] This may have been the birth of a New Republic, however. Hughes and Vindra have since stated that The New Republic’s business model is to be the voice of creative thinkers, united by a collective desire to challenge the status quo. [2] They have moved away from the ‘product’ of a magazine and aim to become an integrated media company. The decisions they have made in the last twelve months about the operating model support this new vision and position the company for success.

Assets and Capability Changes [4]:

  • Editorial staff has been replaced with hires from cable television, digital media and magazines
  • Chief Product Officer has been hired and is building a team of developers and engineers
  • Purchased a piece of an analytics start up
  • Using Metrics for business performance management
  • Created an in-house content management studio called Novel

Structure Changes [4]:

  • Center of gravity shifted from Washington, DC to New York, NY
  • Print schedule has been decreased from 20 to 10 issues per year
  • Redesign of the print edition; less clutter – maximize approachability without sacrificing the depth of content
  • Eliminate distinctions between web and print functions

These operational changes align with a business model that promotes content sharing and dissemination over all types of media. The above changes and decisions are in direct conflict with what is required for a traditional print magazine and therefore reflects Hughes’ future vision for the company. The original philosophy of the magazine when it was founded was to be a vehicle for the spread and discussion of progressive ideas. [4] The shift in strategy and resulting operational changes support both this original philosophy and current mission at The New Republic.











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