Seemed like all 750 people who registered for PaidContent’s first New York soirée showed up last night, and we’re sure at least some of them were there because Rafat Ali announced (less than a million dollars) in funding the day before.
The festivities after a wait down the (steaming hot and muggy) stairs to get into the ballroom floor at the Union Square “W” hotel kicked off with Rafat (above with a fan) interviewing New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who was there to talk about the glories of the digital side of the empire. “Punch”:
Not to mention the $3 million it costs just to keep five people in Iraq, not counting salaries, Sulz said. Sulzberger said he didn’t know how many of the standalone subscriptions to TimesSelect (as opposed to ones that come free with the print subscription) came from people wanting the columnists vs. the archives (we asked) but that he’d find out soon, from his new hire Michael Zimbalist, founder and former head of the Online Publishers Association and current future-looking metrics guy. We also had our suspicion confirmed by a Times executive that a big reason for placing the columnists behind The Wall, rather than, say, the business coverage, is because it’s hard to “monetize” the columnists on sponsorships or other high-priced ads. (What sponsor wants its beloved products next to stories about Sudanese starvation or the supposed misdeeds of the President?)
We got the requisite ContentNext canvas bag (we guess our friend Rafat has arrived), and a bunch of yummy meat-on-sticks concoctions, as well as free drinks. (PaidContent editor Staci Kramer quipped that you could tell last night from the ’90s because there were only two drinks per person, and no carving station.) Others there we saw included Bill Burger, former colleague at Newsweek and now exec at the Copyright Clearance Center; Sridhar Pappu of the Atlantic; Spencer Reiss also formerly of Newsweek but now of Wired; Rajiv Dashi director of Internet operations for Hollywood.com; Jemima Kiss, who works for Rafat in London and may do some stuff for us here; Ash Nashed, the brains and braun behind the new Congoo.com subscription search service, Mark Lukasiewicz of NBC’s digital operations and Marc Strausberg, head of the phenomenally successful (why didn’t we think of that?) Edgar Online, which basically takes public equities information and repackages it for some 20,000 clients such as libraries and corporations and makes a bundle doing so.