Publisher Morphs into Software Vendor

December 12, 2018

Just when we thought content management systems were dead, a publisher is jumping in with feet of Clay. That is the publishing platform Fast Company refers to in its headline, “Why New York Magazine is Selling Its Own Technology to Other Media Companies.” It has been some time since the magazine built its in-house platform, Clay, but recently it partnered with Slate to redesign that site’s CMS. That went so well that two other sites are following suit—Golf.com uses the tech for its large collection of data on U.S. golf courses, and it has been built into Radio.com, which streams music while users peruse the site. Writer Cale Guthrie Weissman reports:

“These features require their own bespoke functionalities—which Clay powers—but they weren’t part of an existing template, like the kind you would find in a conventional CMS. In fact, Clay goes against the model of template-based CMSs, and instead allows developers to use its code base and tools to build their own unique features. ‘What I think makes our CMS and model unique is that [clients are] not buying what we have,’ Hallac says. ‘The way Clay works is that licensees are part of a closed, open-sourced network.’ In a sense, all the customers are part of a consortium building their own things. The Clay codebase is shared among all of them, but they fork it and then build whatever they want atop it themselves.”

And search? Alas, it is not mentioned.

Weissman goes on to observe that selling such in-house software is becoming a trend, giving these examples:

“Vox Media, for instance, has been pushing its Chorus software—which offers both a CMS and an ad network. (New York Media is not selling any sort of advertising network products besides the ability to put ads on a site.) The Washington Post, too, has its own platform, called Arc, which is being licensed to newspapers around the world. Differences aside, the idea and price model is generally the same. Media companies find licensees who shell out monthly fees.”

This is indeed an interesting direction for the publishing industry. As for the Clay platform, Weissman suspects this timing may be an effort to make its parent company, New York Media, LLC, look tasty to potential buyers. The company is reported to have already fielded a few offers.

Cynthia Murrell, December 12, 2018

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