Vinit Bharara is known for co-founding Diapers.com, an online retailer catering to tired moms and dads who liked the convenience of diapers, wipes and baby formula being delivered to their home.
The New Jersey-based parent company, Quidsi, which has since expanded into other verticals, like pet goods on Wag.com and toys on Yoyo.com, was acquired by Amazon for $550 million in 2010. Now, Bharara, who left Amazon last summer, is starting Cafe.com, a new digital publication launching this fall.
While the leap into content seems like a stretch from e-commerce, he tells The New York Times that he has spent countless hours studying the industry. He is now working on creating new financial models based on his research to determine how much capital to invest and what to focus on.
Bharara’s interest in digital media, closely follows other successful tech entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to create digital publications as audiences have flocked online to consume content (even if the money hasn’t necessarily followed in the case for traditional media).
Perhaps, the leap was inspired by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who purchased The Washington Post for $250 million last August, and has been pouring money into Business Insider. Other examples include Twitter’s Evan Williams, who started Medium, and Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes who bought The New Republic in 2012.
It’s a little early to know what Cafe.com will look like, but based on the blurb on the homepage, you shouldn’t expect a Tabloid-esque look and feel.
“We start from the premise that there is nothing more powerful than a great and original idea, and the connection that you make with other people through this idea. That’s the mission of Cafe. It’s why we started: to publish great, original ideas that make human connections, whether they’re serious or fun. Tens of millions of them. It’s really that basic and simple. No gimmicks. No stunts.”
The website also says it’s not interested in posting click-bait lists like “12 Sex Positions to Beat Cancer (unless that’s your passion– in which case, we’re fascinated!!).” Oddly enough, however, we noticed that it’s Facebook page is full of top-10 lists, such as “9 Funny Game of Thrones Season 4 Pie Charts,” and “22 maps that explain the World Cup.”
But unlike many people in the industry, who have rundown by layoffs, cut-backs and other budget-mindedness, Cafe.com says: “We’re super-optimistic about the future of digital media. There has been an explosion of information consumption on the Web. This has coincided with the growth of platforms that make sharing that information second nature. Combining these two factors means that the investment required to start and grow a meaningful institution is much smaller than ever before.”
According to the NYT, Bharara will be investing $5 million of his own money into the publication, which he estimates will last 18 months. So far, he’s hired 10 employees, and built his own content management system called Monsoon.
Interested writers should apply now. And get this: they get “good compensation,” which includes equity in the company, “frequent appreciation; and a genuine, kind, fulfilling, and fun culture.”