- Dave Nemetz/Inverse
Dave Nemetz, the cofounder of upstart sports site Bleacher Report, has never paid too much heed to conventional media wisdom.
Now, as he ramps up Inverse, a year-old site aimed at young men, Nemetz is once again throwing out the traditional playbook.
While many new media companies, led by the archetypal BuzzFeed, have rushed to embrace the huge distribution offered by social media outlets like Facebook, Nemetz is more skeptical. And there are certain elements Nemetz thinks many startups have overlooked in their rush to ride the Facebook tidal wave.
One is Google search, which served as a centerpiece at Bleacher Report early on (to the tune of half of BR’s traffic).
“I love search,” Nemetz told Business Insider. “It’s a forgotten art … and can become very big over time.”
Building over time is particularly important for Inverse, whose bread-and-butter topics are science and innovation. Reporting on topics like virtual reality – before they become truly mainstream – means it can be an uphill battle to get them to pick up steam on social media, which is often dominated by the conversation of the day.
In contrast, “search rewards you for being early,” Nemetz said.
Another element that Nemetz thinks has been neglected by other media startups is the “owned and operated” website. Nemetz described Inverse’s main page as its flagship store, where he gets by far the best margins. He said the team has put in a lot of work on the tech side to make sure it loads quickly.
What do men want?
Inverse’s focus on male readers may have invited the company to be more creative about online distribution and social sharing.
The conventional internet wisdom is that women rule social media, and share more than men. Inverse reaches 75%-80% men, a proposition that would make grabbing enormous scale on places like Facebook relatively more difficult. But that’s not Nemetz’s goal.
And because women have been seen as inherently “better” readers for many new media companies, the men’s space has languished, according to Nemetz. He sees it as an opening.
As to the concept of being a men’s interest site, Nemetz thinks the entire category is broken.
“[Men] don’t really identify with the prescriptive, aspirational [publications],” he said. The idea of telling someone how to live to become a specific type of man has lost steam. “I don’t think [it] rings true,” Nemetz said. The idea for Inverse is to be a bit like Wired magazine when it first started, and become a discovery channel for those with a future-focused lifestyle.
Still, Inverse isn’t completely flying in the face of media trends. Inverse raised $6 million in Series A funding in September, a big piece of which Nemetz will use to build a video team, including Mike Calabro, who was recently hired from NowThis to oversee social video.
Inverse’s team now numbers about 30 full-time staff and 25 freelancers, a much more balanced ratio than Nemetz had in the early days of Bleacher Report, which relied primarily on “contributors,” many of whom were unpaid.
The growth in staffers has necessitated a move out of Inverse’s townhouse in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, where it began its life, to a new office in Soho.
2017 will show whether Inverse can continue to grow from 5.9 million unique visitors in November (per comScore), while keeping its focus on young men, and whether it can put together a compelling story for advertisers.