108: The Next Web’s Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten on the Power of Community and the Future of Media
The future of media, if not the present, probably looks a lot like The Next Web, which is odd considering co-founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten says it’s not even really a media company.
The Next Web instead thinks of itself as a tech company, firing on multiple cylinders at once, including international conferences, ecommerce, online courses, and of course, one of the most influential and trafficked news sites on the web. Soon they’re even opening up a brick and mortar space in Amsterdam that will serve as hub for technology startups.
“For some people it’s sort of weird, ‘What, you’ve got a conference and a website and now you’re opening a space? That’s a totally different thing,’” Veldhuijzen van Zanten told Foundr (we’ll just call him Boris from now on).
“For us, it’s a logical next step, instead of losing focus or branching out into different areas. They’re all connected by the brand and a curiosity in technology and the future of technology.”
The Next Web actually started as a conference host. Its annual event in Amsterdam draws some 20,000 international attendees.
However, the company is probably best known for its tech news site. That branch of the business is staggering, drawing up to 8 million visitors a month. But with its conferences expanding, its growing online marketplace, and Boris and his partners always looking for the next opportunity, the most impressive thing about The Next Web is how it merges such a wide range of services to meet the needs of its loyal community. And they do it all with a relatively small staff and a squad of remote contributors.
“Everything is part of a circle that is growing stronger over time,” Boris says. “Part of our revenue comes from advertising on the sites with all the traffic we have, an important part is the conference, and now the ecommerce part is growing stronger.”
Next could be research, consulting, video, anything within reason that the people who have come to love and trust the company might want. And that’s the secret to The Next Web’s success. It’s not a company that makes a product—it’s a network of people.
In this interview you will learn:
- The subtle details behind what makes a great event that everyone loves
- How to conduct the best interviews with notable influencers
- Boris’s number one tip on generating amazing content
- The tools that every startup should start using
- The key to keeping everyone in your company aligned to the same vision
- & much more!