Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Buzzy media startup Puck emerges from stealth mode with big-name hires

Puck, a splashy new digital media company, is coming out of stealth mode, Axios has learned. The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September.

Why it matters: The company has been quietly building a roster of top talent, but hadn't confirmed its branding or exact business plans up until now.


Driving the news: The outlet has hired several big-name reporters ahead of its launch, all of which are considered founding partners at the company.

  • That includes Dylan Byers as a senior correspondent, Axios has learned. Byers was most recently a senior media correspondent for NBC News. While there, he authored a buzzy daily media and tech tip sheet called "Byers Market," and hosted a podcast that featured interviews with newsmakers.
  • The company also hired Politico White House correspondent Tina Nguyenas a Washington correspondent.

Other new writers that Puck has brought on as founding partners in the past few months include Matthew Belloni, former editor of the Hollywood Reporter, and Teddy Schleifer, formerly of Recode.

  • Belloni and Schleifer's newsletters, covering entertainment and influence, respectively, have gained lots of traction with scoops in the past few weeks.
  • Other familiar faces the company has teased as writers include Snapchat's Peter Hamby, who has had a longtime column at Vanity Fair; comedic writer and futurist Baratunde Thurston; longtime Washington correspondent Julia Ioffe; and author and former Vanity Fair correspondent William D. Cohan.
  • Puck has also hired Benjamin Landy, the former executive editor of Fast Company digital, as executive editor.

Zoom in: The company, which has been teasing its "Puck" branding for some time, will cover the intersection of America's power centers: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, New York City and Washington.

  • On its landing page, Puck says it's a media company covering "power, money, & ego."
  • The name "Puck" is a play on the humorous, know-it-all Shakespearean character from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It's also a reference to the Puck building in Manhattan, where publishing veteran Graydon Carter created Spy, the trailblazing satirical magazine of the 1980's.

Catch up quick: Puck raised $7 million in a Series A funding round earlier this year led by 40 North Media, a related investment business of Standard Industries, and private equity giant TPG Growth.

  • The company was founded by Joe Purzycki, co-founder of the podcast company Luminary; Jon Kelly, a former New York Times editor and founder of Vanity Fair’s "The Hive"; and longtime digital media executive and early Athletic employee Max Tcheyan.
  • On the business side, the company brought on Condé Nast's Liz Gough as co-founder and chief operating officer earlier this year to manage its business operations, B2B marketing and advertising. It also hired Isabella lichauco as a social and brand strategist, and Alexandre Bocquet as a growth strategist.

Between the lines: The company, which plans to mostly make money from paid memberships, is rolling out two tiers for paid memberships ahead of its September launch:

  1. A regular membership will give readers access to all of Puck's articles, emails, archives, exclusive interviews, podcast, etc. for $100 per year. Puck is offering a $75 discount for early members.
  2. An "inner circle" membership will give hyper-fans premium access benefits, like exclusive calls with writers and Zoom Q&A sessions with journalists, for $250 annually.

Puck has also landed a few big-name sponsors during its beta launch, including Amazon Studios, A&E Network, S3 partners and WarnerMedia.

Puck

The big picture: The outlet and its business model are designed to give readers behind-the-scenes looks at the biggest power-brokers of our time. Its branding reflects that goal.

  • "Puck is focused on the overlapping power corridors of our culture—the nexus of Wall Street, Washington, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood; that elevated world filled with moguls, strivers, insurgents, behind-the-scenes players, and ubiquitous C.E.O.s., alike," says co-founder Jon Kelly.
  • "We’re proudly built around generationally talented journalists, with unique access to the story behind the story, the plot that only the real insiders know. We aim to cover it all with sophistication, humility, clarity, wit, and just a little bit of mirth."

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories