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
"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
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
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.