The Foundation for New Product Development
Discussing innovation through product development can involve many different teams. At The New York Times, our R&D team focuses entirely on transformational changes. Conversely, our new ventures team is focused on building products to reach incremental audiences. Our guiding principle is to create delightful and fun content for our users. Furthermore, we look to take advantage of what The Times offers as a leading news organization.
Currently, we manage three products – Crosswords, Cooking and Parenting. Of the three products, Crosswords is the most mature and has a very strong subscription base. Cooking is at mid-stage and we recently introduced a paywall for subscribers to drive new revenue. Finally, our newest product is Parenting, which is in early-stage development and being built from the ground up.
From a structural standpoint, our team is very tight-knit and shares complete ownership of our daily operations. Everyone is aware of our business performance – including the editorial and design teams. Even if they don’t have direct accountability for revenue, at least they feel a sense of shared responsibility for the business doing well.
Teams own their roadmaps and can make their own tradeoff decisions. As a result, our group moves faster than other groups at The Times. Furthermore, we restructured our teams to remove as many layers of management as possible.
Our strategy and levers for business performance are clear. Above all, we are a subscription business first and think about what is most beneficial for our daily users. For example, our cooking business drives revenue from a variety of sources (meal delivery service, cookbooks, etc.). However, we focus on our subscribers first and ensure that our content reflects the preferences of our primary audience.
In summary, our team operates with some degree of independence. That said, we use the credibility and trust in The Times to our advantage in setting up our products for success.
About the speaker
Alex MacCallum is the Head of New Products and Ventures at The New York Times, a position she assumed in September of 2017. In her role, Alex oversees the Cooking and Crosswords products and businesses, as well as new product development. Before joining the Times, Alex was the corporate counsel to The Huffington Post and worked in general management for Lerer Venture backed start-ups. She was also the founding news editor at The Huffington Post and an editorial aide at The Washington Post.
About the host
Andrea is the VP of Product and Engineering at One Kings Lane, a digital-first resource for making your home an expression of your personal style. She has spent over fifteen years in Product and Tech, and has led teams at startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Rent the Runway, Zappos, Time Warner, and Verizon. Andrea is passionate about solving hard (seemingly impossible) challenges, developing simple yet delightful products, building teams of entrepreneurial critical thinkers, and creating strategic outcomes with impact. She is a hands-on leader with a player/coach style, diving into the details with her team to partner, advise, and guide them to success.