FT CEO Ridding talks about business strategy

FT CEO Ridding talks about business strategy

SARAH KNOWS: You wanted to set the scene for us? And talk about the ownership model?

JOHN RIDDING: I’m literally just off the plane back from Tokyo where we agreed on our plans and priorities for this year. In terms of context, it’s another phase of disruption and existential challenge — not least because of the implications of generative AI, but also, you know, pressures and structural challenge in some key revenue lines for the industry, notably advertising. And there’s been another wave of significant job cuts, including, as you well know, major titles in the U.S..We approach all of this from what I see as a strong position relatively and absolutely. We’re at an all-time high in terms of readers and paying readers. We broke the £500 million revenue line last year for the first time. [Note: That’s about $545 million USD.] Our global paying audience reached 2.6 million and our audiences are more engaged than ever. So while we aren’t complacent — we can’t afford to be complacent — and while I think this is a phase of, frankly, major risk and danger for the news ecosystem, I’m pretty confident about the FT’s formula and strategy. And I do believe that quality news can be a quality, growth business.

That [FT] formula is a commitment to editorial independence and excellence, illustrated by sustained expansion of the newsroom. A strong focus on our core subs business, helped by the fact that we started our transformation early, along with the the digital innovations that have deepened engagement and broadened our reach. And, yes, one other point I wanted to emphasize because it doesn’t, I think, get enough attention in terms of formulas for growth and sustainability and news media is the ownership model.

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