Jim VandeHei's startup will have a Silicon Valley foothold, a D.C. newsdesk and an events business
Politico founder Jim VandeHei is hiring for his new startup, and the job descriptions give a few clues about what he and co-founder Mike Allen are up to.
Just weeks after announcing the name of the startup — Axios, Greek for "worthy" — and sketching out a few details, VandeHei and company are now making early hires for a venture that aims to "fix what’s broken in media."
Following reports that Axios will cover technology, the startup posted a job for a Silicon Valley reporter(s) who will be charged with covering "the collision of government policy and the world's most important technology companies." The reporter(s) will be based in Silicon Valley and, the description says, deeply sourced at places like "Uber, Apple, Facebook and Google."
Look for "collision" to be a watchword for the editorial philosophy of Axios going forward. As VandeHei told Vanity Fair in November, the mission of the company is tied to covering how areas like business, tech and politics — staples for most general-interest news organizations — interact with one another. After all, each sector is already extremely well-covered — so why not try to explore spaces in-between?
Per the organization's stated focus on business, Axios is also hiring a business and finance reporter who will focus on the "most important business stories of the day, and help 'narrate the markets'" with respect to the Federal Reserve and economic data. The concept of "narration" — not writing articles but applying some sort of analytical layer to them — also appeared in earlier coverage of Axios. It suggests that journalists at Axios won't be heavy on aggregation — rewriting stories that appeared in other publications — but rather putting their own topspin on stories that appear elsewhere.
That seems to be the idea for Axios' forthcoming Newsdesk, a hub based in the startup's Washington, D.C.-area headquarters. Details on the newsdesk are still scant (reporters must "write clearly, cleanly and quickly"), but when viewed in the context of Axios' stated goals, it's hard to imagine the newsdesk as a direct descendent to similarly-named initiatives at The Associated Press, for example.
Some other news from the job listings: Axios will have an events business. According to a job posting for an "events associate," Axios will aim to throw "award-winning events with leaders across politics, technology, business and more." Given Axios' ties to Politico, this is not surprising. The company has former Pinterest events chief Ali Rubin as its head of events.
It will be interesting to see how Axios distinguishes itself in the events business, as many of its competitors have big events businesses in the areas that Axios plans to cover. Fortune, for example, has high-profile events related to business, as do Politico and Re/code in politics and technology. Given Axios' emphasis on the "collision" of various topic areas, it's possible that the events might revolve around in-person convenings between people in different industries — sort of like Playbook Breakfast meets the Code Conference.
Lastly, sleuthing on Axios website shows that the company has come up with names for newsletters from marquee writers like Allen, Dan Primack and David Nather. Allen's newsletter, which will cut across Axios' various sections, will be titled "Axios AM" (short for 'all Mikey,' and, presumably, ante meridian). Primack, who wrote the influential "Term Sheet" newsletter at Fortune, will write a newsletter about deals called "Axios Pro Rata." And David Nather, the former Washington editor at STAT, will write a newsletter called "Axios Vitals."
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Ali Rubin's former title. Rubin was the head of global events for Pinterest, not AOL. Also, a previous version of this story said Schwartz was "a linchpin" of Politico's events business. That is not the case.