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Jim Bankoff Says Vox Media Is Content Publisher for a New Generation

"There are companies that have been built on lists," Bankoff said, but he didn't name any names.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media, believes his company will become a dominant digital publisher the way Time Inc. or Conde Nast once ruled print media.

“New audiences — with every generation — migrate to new brands — old media is giving way to new,” he said at the Code/Media event in San Francisco today. “It happened in print, and it’s happening in video as well.”

Vox, publisher of high-profile sites including the Verge, SB Nation and Vox.com, just raised $46.5 million in funding, which values the company at about $380 million. For some context, that’s a decent chunk more than the $250 million Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post last year, but only half of the $850 million that BuzzFeed is currently worth — even though both digital publishers claim about 150 million monthly readers.

“There are companies that have been built on lists,” Bankoff said of the slate of new publishers that have cropped up in the last few years, without naming a specific site. “When you’re a company that’s all lists, or all slideshows, or all quizzes, then that’s a problem because you’re trying to game something.”

All the same, investors are now pouring money into Web publishers. This year, Business Insider raised a $12 million round, which was led by Bezos, and BuzzFeed grabbed $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz.

Bankoff has so far raised $110 million in the last six years, and he has spent a lot of his cash buying and building new businesses, including the Curbed Network and the splashy launch of Vox, run by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.

Vox.com’s main draw is how Klein and his crew grok reams of data, making sense of complicated issues in ways that are easily digestible for online readers, an editorial style that Bankoff sees as fundamental to his sites.

“Vox.com is the fastest growing Web brand of 2014,” he boasted, adding the site has grown because of the company’s clever use of both its writers and the technology it has developed. “Our content platform is less about the 1s and 0s and more about workflow — working with developers and designers in how you tell a better story online. It’s different from TV or print.”

This year, Bankoff says the new money will allow him to add more video content and to build out his company’s native advertising division, which produces content for advertisers.

Observers have suggested the company is likely burning through lots of cash given its staff of 350, but Bankoff had previously said the company expects to become profitable next year.

“There will always be an important role for professional storytellers and professional journalists,” he said. “There are changes going on in media, but that doesn’t mean that demand will go away.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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