Subscriptions and international audience engagement: John Saroff on OMR Podcast

Chartbeat CEO John Saroff recently sat down with Pia Frey, host of the OMR Media Podcast based in Germany.

The wide-ranging interview spans marketing and technology insights, including Chartbeat’s early plans to take on subscription models, international audience engagement, and why both he and Dr. Matthias Dopfner, the CEO of Axel Springer, both sleep like babies.

You can listen to the podcast and read some of our favorite excerpts and quotes from the conversation below.

On working with journalists and editors

I love working with journalists and editors. I met my wife by writing an article in Cosmopolitan magazine. Being a journalist is an incredibly vulnerable position. You put a little bit of yourself into the thing that you write and you don’t really know if anyone’s going to read it. And you deeply want people to read it. No one became a journalist to become a billionaire, they became a journalist because they want to be read. They’ve got a point of view, they’ve got something to say. When I really lock brains with a journalist about what their lives are like and what they want to do, that’s the most fun for me.

On the major cultural changes happening within publishers

The thing that I think really hurts publishers is when the editorial team, the marketing team, the product team and the finance team all care about different things. And one of the things you’re seeing as people begin to understand their businesses better is better alignment across those departments.

On whether he still sees Chartbeat as a startup

It feels like it. Big companies may want to feel like startups, but I think Dr. [Matthias] Dopfner [CEO of Axel Springer] and I go to sleep worried about very different things. There’s this saying about CEOs that we sleep like babies—we wake up screaming every night at 2:30 a.m. I think me and Dr. Dopfner probably wake up screaming at 2:30, but about very different things.

On what he would be if not Chartbeat CEO

I would have liked to have been either left back for Liverpool or shortstop for the New York Yankees. To be honest, as a kid I loved reading about everything and I loved numbers. That’s why I feel so fortunate to be in my job.

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