CEO Supper Club: Commerce can add content, but can it go the other way?

By Sarah Lacy , written on February 19, 2013

From The News Desk

Our dinner with New York-based ecommerce CEOs was a great time to ask whether content companies have better leverage to get into content or content companies have better leverage to add on commerce.

It's a topic plenty of sectors of the New York ecosystem are debating as magazines seek to be more relevant and ecommerce companies start to look more like CondeNast titles with better business models.

Across the table from one another were Doug Mack of One Kings Lane, which started with commerce and is increasingly betting on content, and Ben Lerer of Thrillist, which did the opposite when it bought JackThreads.


Er.... sort of.

Lerer basically ceded the point, saying that the only reason they made the transition was because they purchased an existing and thriving commerce company. I asked if Thrillist would have tried to get into content if they hadn't found JackThreads and he said, "We would have launched something, and we would have fucked it up for sure."

Lerer went further in arguing that "No traditional content brands have built a meaningful commerce business," sparking a debate on whether it's too late for magazines to even get into this race.

(Yes, the wine is starting to kick in by this point in the evening...)

It's a must watch conversation for old media brands trying to use the Web to be relevant.

Go here for previous installments on what makes ecommerce so hard and why most ecommerce companies aren't founded in Silicon Valley these days.

(Thanks to Felice in New York for the hospitality.)