- The Tab
The CEO and founder of youth media site The Tab recently had a high-stakes meeting with one of the most powerful media owners on the planet.
But rather than rehearsing his lines, finessing a slideshow or working out strategies to charm News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, Jack Rivlin spent the preceding weekend at Glastonbury.
When he showed up the following morning at Murdoch’s British HQ, the glass-clad News Building by London Bridge, Rivlin was still picking glitter out of his hair, wearing borrowed shoes, and nursing a hangover.
None of this prevented him, alongside co-founder George Marangos-Gilks, from securing Murdoch’s backing as the lead investor in a £4.5 million ($6 million) round of funding announced this week.
The money will help hire more staff and bolster The Tab’s network of youth-focused sites, which consist of volunteer campus editions in the US and UK, professional staff in London and New York, and a women’s sub-section called babe.
- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
In an interview with Business Insider, Rivlin described how he won Murdoch over by appealing to his credentials as a news man, showing him a book of cuttings filled with print-outs of Tab stories that made a big splash.
They included an exclusive story that Malia Obama was headed for Harvard, and in the UK damning footage of a Cambridge student setting a £20 note on fire in front of a homeless man.
- The Tab
During the US presidential election Tab reporters reported extensively on Bernie Sanders’ increasing popularity with young people, and managed to get an answer out of then-candidate Donald Trump at a campaign event.
In the UK, The Tab got exclusive access to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, convinced David Cameron to write an article for them, and became the stars of an embarrassing photo op with Ed Miliband.
Rivlin said: “Rather than going in with a slide deck I wanted to show what makes us really unique. I printed out all the big scoops we’d done over the last couples of years and slapped that on their desk – it was Rupert Murdoch, [News Corp CEO] Robert Thompson and [News UK COO] David Dinsmore.”
“They loved it, we shook on investment after 45 minutes.
“We came straight out of Glastonbury and had left the day before. I had to borrow some shoes from my friend’s dad, we still had glitter on us. It’s just about the only time I’ve ironed a shirt.”
- The Tab
Rivlin declined to specify how much Murdoch’s News Corp invested, but said they were the lead in a £4.5 million round made up of several investors.
The latest round means Tab Media, the site’s UK-based parent company, has taken a total of £7.63 million ($10 million) of private investment.
He said the attraction of his website – as opposed to other “millennial” outlets – is that the content is written by people who really understand their audience, because they are the same age as them.
He said: “The average age is 23, for our editorial staff. [Campus editors and reporters are younger.] If you put those guys in charge it’s chaotic and you get something pretty unvarnished. It also helps that they’re always up for a scrap.”
Full disclosure: I edited a campus edition of the Tab as a student in 2012, and am no longer involved.