By Damaris Colhoun, Columbia Journalism Review
A VOLATILE MARKET, plunging tech stocks, and fears of a looming recession (or at least, a major correction) are sending jolts through the media world. Last week Bloomberg reported that in December The Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund had cut Snapchat’s holding by 2 percent—its second write down of Snapchat in three months—and that Yahoo had reduced its valuation of Tumblr by $230 million, amid cost-cutting plans of its own. Meanwhile, The Guardian News & Media, publisher of The Guardian, recently announced it’s looking to cut more than $70 million in costs over the next three years, after losing more than that in 2015—despite its vast of flows of traffic and digital growth.
For media start-ups running off the fumes of their VC investments, and legacy newsrooms making the move to digital, these stumbles are a crucial reminder that traffic alone won’t keep them out of the red. As digital ad sales soften, investing in other channels of revenue—be it branded content, events, membership programs, or paywalls—will become increasingly important. These recent tech market tumbles also point to the trouble with growth: namely, that unless it generates revenue, it may not have much value. Not when investors are getting nervous and tech unicorns may be facing leaner times.