Fortune Media Group has hired Jonathan Rivers as its first Chief Technology Officer. He will work to build premium products at the business-focused media brand.
Rivers will lead the development of products for Fortune across its digital, live events and print businesses. He reports to Fortune president-CEO Alan Murray. He took on the role Monday.
“Over the course of the next year, he will be guiding a transformation of our product offerings,” Murray stated.
Fortune claims a combined audience of more than 20 million readers in print and online.
Fortune Media Group was part of the Time media family; it became part of Meredith Corp. after it bought Time Inc. in 2018. At the end of last year, Meredith sold the publication to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon.
“After the sale, Fortune only had an executive team and journalists,” Rivers told Publishers Daily. The 89-year-old media company had “no infrastructure,” because it had lived on Time and Meredith’s platforms.
“We have a website, but it has to get migrated out of Meredith’s infrastructure. A lot of the marketing stack and online advertising stack has to be built from the ground up,” he said. Having a website is “not sufficient to get you into the new world,” Rivers added.
Previously Chief Technology Officer at 3Pillar Global, a product development services company, Rivers decided he “wanted to build things for myself” again, rather than “live vicariously” through his teams.
He led over 100 development teams building 150 product lines for 3Pillar's clients.
This job at Fortune is unique; it is both “an organizational build and technology build at the same time,” he notes.
In the first half of this year, Rivers will focus on “making Fortune its own company,” one that can operate and stand independently. In the second half of 2019, he will tackle creating a premium product at Fortune. He mentioned digital subscriptions, paywalls and memberships.
Rivers his aim: "How do we not give everything away for free? We will be shifting the business from advertiser-focused to customer-focused," he said. That means becoming “hyper-focused” on the customer. If you give them something valuable, they will pay for it. It’s a value exchange,” he said.
Fortune will start small, running tests to see what works for its audience.
Rivers also noted he will work to build products to serve time-starved audiences drowning under too much information.
He discussed different formats: podcasts for commutes, desktop for long-form editorial and newsletters for mobile reading, for example.
The time is now, he said, for Fortune to use technology to develop potential new offerings.
“These is no shortage of content. We have to solve these things through technology, with a content-delivery platform that has to be suitable, elegant and efficient, to help guide you through that.”
He added: “We can’t just create journalism and assume the dollars will follow. There’s a delivery method — and that vehicle is technology.”
Rivers has also served as the interim Chief Technology Officer at Telegraph Media Group, where he oversaw the launch of ecommerce platform Telegraph Travel.
In addition, he worked as the senior director of web operations and customer support, PBS and executive vice president, AdJuggler, a digital ad-serving platform acquired by Zenovia.