I first started reading Rafat Ali's work in 2003. It was at a time when no one covered the economics and business aspects of digital media in a sophisticated, nuanced way, so when I discovered Rafat's PaidContent, it was as if I'd stumbled upon a secret treasure map to this industry I was trying to better understand.
I soon discovered I wasn't alone. Whether at trade shows like Digital Hollywood, analyst conferences, or on panels, it seemed everyone read Rafat's newsletter and site. In short, most anyone involved in the business of digital media in the mid-2000s read PaidContent.
Within a few years, The Guardian had swept in and acquired PaidContent. A couple years later, Rafat left the company, traveled the world, and came back with a vision for a new company in Skift, which he hopes can shake up the travel intelligence market in the same way PaidContent did with digital media.
In this conversation, Rafat and I talk about these early days of PaidContent and the tech media landscape, how it's evolved since, The Guardian acquisition, the decision making process behind launching a business focused on travel intelligence (and other verticals he considered), and what's next for Skift, his new company.
This one is great for anyone interested in hearing about the early days of tech and media blogging, how it differs from today's landscape, as well as anyone looking for some sound media startup advice from a guy who's done it twice.