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Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media Names Michael Rosen Chief Revenue Officer

Andy Carvin Joins to Work on Social Media

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First Look Media, the journalism venture from eBay founder and Chairman Pierre Omidyar, has hired Michael Rosen as its chief revenue officer, making him the startup's first hire on its business side.

Glenn Greenwald, the blogger who has worked closely with Edward Snowden, was the first to join First Look Media on the editorial side.

Michael Rosen is the chief revenue officer at First Look Media.
Michael Rosen is the chief revenue officer at First Look Media.

Mr. Rosen, the former head of online and mobile sales at AT&T Adworks, will lead all revenue initiatives, including sales, marketing and business development, Mr. Omidyar said in a blog post scheduled to go live Tuesday on FirstLook.org. He will also begin hiring a team to support his efforts. Mr. Rosen's first day at the company was Monday.

"He will work with me to explore and implement new revenue models and maximize old ones," Mr. Omidyar said in the post. "He will work with industry leaders on new ways to engage consumers through advertising and sponsorship. And he will identify and forge business development partnerships with innovative companies around content, distribution, social engagement and technology."

Mr. Rosen exited AT&T Adworks in December after the telecom decided last October to shutter the mobile and online side of the ad network. Prior to joining AT&T Adworks in 2011, Mr. Rosen held various positions at several technology and media companies, including Oggifinogi, Babelgum, WeatherBug, Bloomberg Media and News Corp.

Mr. Rosen said he was happy to have found a role at a company that intends to innovate in journalism, but not only for the sake of traffic. "I took a very hard look at finding an organization that balances doing something for the greater good with a strong infrastructure and ability to reinvent how journalists deliver stories that consumers need," Mr. Rosen said.

First Look Media's chief website, scheduled to roll out later this year, will serve as a general interest publication covering politics, foreign policy, sports and entertainment. Digital magazines around specific topics are also planned. The project will offer "critical, but expensive support" for its journalists, partly from a separate tech company that is also being built, Mr. Omidyar said in a video posted last week.

Mr. Omidyar has invested $50 million in the startup, he has said, part of the $250 million he has pledged.

First Look Media is among several new ventures with well-known journalists at their core. Ezra Klein recently left The Washington Post, where he was a highly regarded policy blogger, to build a new site with Vox Media. Nate Silver left The New York Times to helm a site funded by ESPN and Disney. Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, formerly of AllThingsD, introduced their own tech-focused news site this year, funded partly by NBC Universal.

Whether these companies can turn a profit in the crowded digital media landscape remains a question. The competition for eyeballs is fierce among a growing set of both digital-only and traditional media companies. And a combination of that competition and new ad technology is combining to drive down ad rates online, making it all the more difficult to grow revenue and show a profit.

Mr. Omidyar has said First Look Media will "experiment with new and old revenue sources, and create entirely new ones." It's too early to tell what those new revenue sources will be, according to Mr. Rosen. "The beauty is that First Look Media isn't burdened with a legacy structure so we can explore new revenue models," he said. "We can be innovative, not be afraid to try things out."

"If we do it right, if the journalism and the citizen engagement plays out, the audience will come," he added. "It's up to us to monetize in new and interesting ways."

First Look Media also said it is hiring of Andy Carvin, NPR's former senior managing of social media products. He will "play an influential role in helping us imagine and build new and better ways to engage readers through the innovative use of social media and other digital-age approaches to journalism," Mr. Omidyar said in his blog post. Mr. Carvin begins in the spring.

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