Newspaper software developers become sales agents

February 16, 2011 Uncategorized

In today’s fast moving technology race a newspaper or magazine publisher needs to be confident that the product on offer today will still be the best available tomorrow. This challenge creates a double-edged sword: hard working software companies strive to put out better product at cheaper prices, which in turn opens up a world of choice for buyers. Great! The flip side however is that it is difficult to maintain poll position, especially with so many others crowding the market and significantly reduced margins on technology sales. So we see true trend-setters of eras only two or three years ago lying withered on the side of the blue chip highway. Commercial wrecks that simply were unable to stay in the game.

For these reasons EzyMedia had to make some very tough decisions this year. Founded in 2006, EzyMedia quickly enthused investors with its fresh approach to the process of publishing. Work started immediately on a powerful content management system for newspapers and magazines that truly bridged the online-print worlds and was affordably positioned for independent newspaper and magazine publishers. Within 12-months EzyMedia became the leading provider of websites to independent newspapers in Australia, also picking up Australia’s National Publishing Association and Australia’s Defence Newspaper Group. In the first 24-months the team met with 200+ publishers around the world to learn how they did business, feeding insights back to the development team.

By early 2009 and after $420k invested in software development, EzyMedia had one of the most powerful CMS engines in the world. We decided it was time to survey our customers, see how they were using our systems. To our astonishment, around 5% of our customers were truly exploiting the system to its full potential – the rest were just happy to have a website! When we asked our customers what they wanted, the overwhelming response was “We want to make money!”

EzyMedia responded quickly. We were a group of publishers that had inadvertently become a software development company. So excited had we become about the bells and whistles of our own software that we had overlooked the most important wish for all publishing businesses in these rapidly changing times – making money!

The EzyMedia engine was an underutilised sledge hammer that could significantly reduce workloads when used properly, but was it a money-maker? What percentage of our resources was going into ongoing software development that could otherwise be focused on generating revenues for our customers?

We looked around us. The market had become crowded and all our contemporaries (aka competitors) were still caught in the same spiral of releasing the next version of what they also hoped would be the world’s best CMS. That is an expensive habit and, we believe, an impossible growth strategy.

At the same time one of our customers stopped publishing his magazine – our first lost customer in 4-years! He simply was not making enough money to keep it going. Our wonderful publishing systems might have made his job easier, but it did not add to his bottom line.

EzyMedia had to move away from software development to revenue generation. We had to help our publishers make more money. To do this we had to give up the notion of being a CMS software developer for newspapers and magazines. So on a foggy morning early this Spring we switched off 4-years of development.  The team was immediately set the task of finding the very best software solutions out there, from newspaper and magazine CMS solutions, to classifieds, job directories, tourism, auctions, CRM solutions and anything at all that would increase revenues for newspaper and magazine publishers.

After a good deal of research it became obvious that WordPress is the leading open-source CMS software on this planet and only destined to get stronger. We bought up developer licenses for one product after another, not all WordPress, but certainly all opensource and all driven by developers around the world.

We knew publishing and we knew the market. Now we intend to deliver on that knowledge and experience.

For the moment EzyMedia has shelved most of its own proprietary software and pulled together a unique array of solutions offered by open-source and proprietary software companies that are the best in their field. The goal now is to offer publishers obvious paths to new revenues at minimal cost, with the quiet confidence that developers around the world are pushing the envelope on products we offer our customers.

Our choice to move away from proprietary software development was driven by our passion to stay close to our customers, to deliver what a market truly wants. The alternative was to become a shrivelled wreck on the side of the road like many of the big companies we have seen in the past that simply could not make the tough decisions.

We hope you will join us in this new era of publishing.