Can’t play startup at old-media title with no place to go in case of failure ::re NewRepub::


Silicon Valley has a no-lose culture: You join a startup, and either it succeeds, in which case you win, or else it doesn’t, in which case you just join another. Failure is victimless, and indeed can be worn as a badge of honor. And precisely because failure is so socially acceptable, it is also extremely common; young companies regularly take crazy existential risks because the downside (another free roll of the dice) is so acceptable, while the upside is unlimited.

Chris Hughes took a crazy existential risk with The New Republic, and, predictably, it didn’t pan out… The problem is that he took those risks with a venerable institution, staffed with people who couldn’t easily land lucrative software-engineer jobs at any number of alternative startups. He took over a publication with a century of history, gutted it, and now, having failed, intends to simply walk away.

The publication Hughes created … is high-quality and interesting, but he didn’t need to buy and then dismantle The New Republic in order to create it. Indeed, Hughes’s own list of admired new-media shops (Vox, Vice, the Texas Tribune, Buzzfeed, ProPublica, and Mic) demonstrates that starting from scratch can be very effective. You can’t treat a century-old publication the way you would a one-year-old startup…

Read the full piece at Fusion