Looking inside Business Insider
A computer screen in the Business Insider lobby tracks how many visitors are on its website at all times of the day, and where they are coming from.
It peers down at the unused ping-pong table. I ask a staffer if she’d like to play a game, and she says I’d probably win in a tone that implies that she rarely plays. (Two male staffers engage in a game shortly thereafter that ends in a 21-18 score and a few expletives.)
Joe Weisenthal, the site’s executive editor, admits that he hasn’t played since the summer of 2011.
“I used to play all the time, but [staffer Jay Yarow] always beat me,” said Weisenthal. “In the summer of 2011, I played constantly. I’m so rusty that I would be too embarrassed to play here. The people who play a lot have gotten so much better than me.”
Business Insider is one of the new entries in business journalism. It’s part of a number of websites changing how business and economics news is being delivered.
In the past month, Business Insider has announced a new round of financing and plans to expand into the Great Britain market. That should happen in the third quarter of this year with the hiring of about a dozen staffers in London.
“That is really exciting to me,” said Weisenthal in an interview Wednesday at Business Insider’s office in Manhattan. “I just think there is an opportunity to bring our style of coverage to that market. I think we should do very well. And I like the idea that now that we have an office in San Francisco and then in London, we can be a true 24-hour news operation.”
Business Insider’s editorial staff is currently less than 100, much less than the business journalism behemoths of Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, which employ thousands. But on Wednesday afternoon, it was busy breaking the Herbalife investigation story along with its larger competitors.
Weisenthal sits in the middle of the newsroom, shouting to reporters and tweeting constantly. On this day, he is wearing a black baseball cap, which one staffer says helps him focus. (Editor in chief Henry Blodget, who was traveling on Wednesday, also sits in the newsroom.)
Business Insider has recently expanded into writing longer-form stories as well. Weisenthal says it has no plans to expand its coverage areas. Instead, it wants to provide more depth to its current beats.
“In tech, there is an opportunity to go deeper into the companies we cover, such as Microsoft, Google and Apple,” he said. “You could theoretically have a person devoted to each one. We could certainly do more with markets and economics. We now have two retail reporters, and at one point we had no one devoted to retail.”
Weisenthal is also pleased with the site’s burgeoning video operation, which recently produced a story about the Dos Equis commercial “most interesting man in the world.”
“The video team is doing fun stuff that could not be adequately written about,” said Weisenthal. “Hearing him talk in a voice outside the commercial, I don’t think there’s anyway it could have been captured in a story.”
Coming is more graphics and more data, as well more from Business Insider’s paid research operation.
Which means less time for Weisenthal to improve on his ping-pong game.
“We need a new game,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind air hockey. But that might be too loud.”