How can products become essential in a crowded and evolving marketplace?  In this episode of Capgemini’s 2024 Leaders in Innovation miniseries, Capgemini Americas Portfolio Lead Lisa Mitnick meets with NY Times VP of Product Management Ken Houseman to discuss how the 174-year-old New York Times is reinventing itself to become an essential subscription in today’s crowded media landscape. He shares the NY Times’ journey of transitioning to digital and building a subscription business model. Ken also talks about his non-traditional career path to product leadership and his role in modernizing the NY Times’ commercial systems. Tune in for insights on how the NY Times innovates through experimentation while maintaining its core mission of truthful journalism.

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Show Notes

  1. The New York Times is focused on becoming an essential subscription by optimizing products for individual interests and engagement levels.
  2. The company has reinvented itself multiple times throughout its 174-year history to adapt to changing needs and monetize its journalism.
  3. Ken had a non-traditional career path, with experience in engineering, business processes, and large-scale systems implementations.
  4. His role involves modernizing the NY Times’ commercial systems to prioritize engagement over acquisition.
  5. Subscription revenue has surpassed advertising, showing the value readers place on journalism.
  6. Dynamic paywalls and tailored content keep readers engaged with news while introducing them to paid options.
  7. Partnerships can help with non-core tasks like billing systems, but the NY Times maintains control over its algorithms and data.
  8. Experimentation and learning from failures drives innovation, as long as journalism quality is not compromised.
  9. Generative AI could accelerate spread of misinformation if sources are not verified.
  10. Brands like the NY Times may become trusted guides through complex information landscapes.
  11. Readers will pay for arbitration of truth from a source that aligns with their values.
  12. The NY Times protects journalists’ work while exploring AI’s potential benefits.
  13. Agility, diverse ideas, and courage to take measured risks unlock growth.
  14. Games, recipes and other content provide an on-ramp for new users and news breaks.
  15. A subscription to the NY Times feels worthwhile due to high-quality journalism.
  16. Dynamic paywalls introduce readers to paid options at the right time.
  17. Data-driven decisions optimize the user experience and business model.
  18. The NY Times’ mission is bringing truth to the world through trusted reporting.
  19. Staying positive, curious and open-minded enables navigating rapid change.
  20. Iterative learning from experiments drives continuous reinvention.

About the speaker
Ken Houseman NY Times, VP of Product Member

If it's unclear, challenging, daunting, or even considered "impossible"... then it's my kind of challenge. Led major initiatives, recovering over $20 million in annual invoice erosion and creating a forward-thinking $350 million global cloud data center build strategy, achieving a significant 30% reduction in payment costs. Orchestrated diverse teams within enterprise software and SaaS environments, using Agile methods to optimize product development, management, and strategic outcomes. Executed nuanced Profit and Loss (P&L) management with a distinct focus on organizational leadership. Spearheaded continuous improvement initiatives, ensuring sustained growth and resilience in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Leverages experience to enhance commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in leadership. Committed to fostering a workplace culture valuing differences and recognizing diversity as a pivotal driver of innovation. Guides strategic DEIA initiatives, leading to tangible enhancements in organizational performance through a holistic approach. Focused on sharing insights and collaborating on challenges within the digital commerce realm, open to speaking engagements at events, and exploring collaborative opportunities to address technical and industry-wide issues.

About the host
Lisa Mitnick Capgemini, Americas Portfolio Lead

Lisa is Executive Vice President of Capgemini, where she serves as the Americas Portfolio Lead. Prior to this role, Lisa served as Global Offer leader for Intelligent Products and Services, helping companies identify and drive new profitable revenue streams through business model innovation and next generation connected products and services. Lisa is an accomplished leader with a track record of 20-plus years launching and scaling new digital businesses with deep experience in strategy, M&A, alliances, product management, and business development. She has worked across communications, media, technology, health, and government sectors, harnessing the power of technology to bring value-added services to customers. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on topics including IOT, digital transformation, and connected products and is an advocate for digital equity and inclusion. Lisa earned her BA in Asian Studies from The University of Pennsylvania and MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

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