Within the last five years, Mic has raised $32 million of funding and built a team of editors, reporters, producers, designers and engineers. Jake and his team believe that millennials are inquisitive, have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom, and crave substantive news to spark interesting conversations. Faith is strong in the United States, that media will gain a new business model.
Alexander Görlach: Mic is a news outlet for Millenials. How is their news consumption difference from previous generations?
Jake Horowitz: Mic was founded on the belief that this generation craves substantive news, just as any previous generation. Millennials are consuming news largely on their mobile devices (over 80% of Mic’s audience) and they are consuming video in huge numbers. For reference, there were 77 million millennial digital video viewers in 2015, representing more than 92% of all US millennial internet users (eMarketer). We only expect that number to grow; we reached 200 million people last month through video alone. Finally, millennials have a distinct worldview that is often at odds with the voice that more legacy media outlets often present. That is where Mic comes in; we offer smart, forward-thinking counter narrative stories that embody the mindset of this generation.
Alexander: To some, Millenials may just be another buzzword – like Generation Y. Is there any significant data that underlines the claim for the existence of this cohort?
Jake: For Mic, millennials refers to the generation of Americans between the ages of 18-35, those who grew up with social media, using technology and formed their identity in the post-9/11 era. Over 75% of Mic’s audience registered to vote in the last election, we have an average household income of $96K, and over 80% of our audience consumes news on mobile.
“Millennials are tired of the status quo, have little faith in government, and are skeptical of establishment politics.”
Alexander: What do you emphasize in your coverage of the elections? Do millennials have a favorite candidate? Do they, overall, have a different approach to politics?
Jake: It has been interesting to see young people rally behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, and even behind Donald Trump. Millennials are tired of the status quo, have little faith in government, and are skeptical of establishment politics. Whether right or wrong, for millennials, these two candidates represent an alternative type of leadership that breaks from the politics that our generation has grown tired of.
Alexander: Your growth seems to be outstanding: you collected $32 million from investors, and grew from 40 to 120 employees with just a year. This sounds amazing for someone from Germany, where the media scene doesn’t experience such enthusiasm anymore. Why is America different?
Jake: With advertising dollars moving from print and radio to digital, along with the advent of social media becoming a powerful distribution source for news, we’re seeing great enthusiasm in the U.S. for media in a way that wasn’t there 5-10 years ago.
Alexander: Does New York City play a specific role? You find Huffpo, Vox, Buzzfeed here, and of course Mic. Is NYC the media hub of the US?
Jake: Historically and definitely still today, New York City is certainly one of the most important media hubs in the world. It has been helpful to be a part of this ecosystem.
Alexander: Would it fit your strategy to expand the business overseas?
Jake: Yes, it’s something we are thinking about carefully. Of our 30 million visits a month, about 10 million are coming from outside of the U.S. Millennials are a distinctly global generation. We grew up in the internet age, where we’ve consumed news largely on international web platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The millennial generation is a highly interconnected and international one, and Mic plans to take full advantage of that evolving mindset, from both an editorial and business perspective.
“The visual economy will only strengthen with Generation Z.”
Alexander: What will the media consumption of the next generations look like?
Jake: The visual economy will only strengthen with Generation Z. Video will continue to be a huge factor in the creation, consumption, and distribution of news. Apps like Snapchat and Messenger, and any direct to consumer channel, have huge potential for the next generation.
We’re already beginning to see that traction with our younger audience and anticipate it only growing stronger as this next group of news consumers ages.