Notes on Axios’s business strategy with Axios HQ

I’ve been following Axios HQ with keen interest from afar for a little over a year now (I’m not associated with it). 

For the unfamiliar, Axios HQ is one of media company Axios’s big bets to work with enterprise customers on internal communications. The driving through line behind it is the term, “smart brevity,” which the company has turned into a book, and Axios founder and CEO VandeHei did a talk about:

It had made $1.5 million in revenue in 2021 when it launched, and was up to over $2 million a few months after with 210 clients as of March 2022. It’s aiming to work with 600 clients this year, which would bring it to $6 million in revenue. Those are big numbers, I have no idea how it’s going internally, though there’s a lot to appreciate from the outside here:

  • I’ve written about pricing in magnitudes before, in which Tiffany and Co. EVP Alexandre Arnault claimed that Tiffany’s was the only brand that could offer products at $200 to $20 million. Media companies like Axios are expanding into this, with Axios PRO coming in at $2,499 per year, and Axios HQ at $10,000 per year. 
  • While Axios HQ has landed an impressive breadth of enterprise clients, I imagine one goal for them is to expand even deeper into enterprises, and to roll out deeper, wider, and pricier Axios HQ integrations. Each client is a potential starting point for that right now.
  • Axios did not start off as a technology product company, though Axios HQ is its first venture into that flavor. It’s good for it to start this early. It has around 60 people working exclusively on Axios HQ. If it meets its 600 client goal, the revenue per person would be around $100,000. That’s not quite at the software gold standard (Google’s is $1.6 million per employee).
  • The aforementioned point on making a book and naming an idea (“smart brevity”) to stake its claim on it and go for branded SEO
  • It’s a fascinating bundle and business model for creators to consider; how can a creator or entrepreneur package its services for enterprise teams, and sell them? For authors, that means speaking, offering client services and workshops, or creating software.
  • Axios HQ seems to be a great way to bundle its editorial expertise in the form of a software platform (to get companies willing to pay for it!); in reality, it can also be a great stream of services revenue, like specialist contractors focusing on Cisco, etc.

Just some stuff on my mind about Axios HQ. In spite of the grand vision for it to make half of Axios’s revenue, it’s still a very small drop in the bucket for Axios’s revenue. I just love that they’re trying to make it happen.

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