Gawker Media is starting the new year off with a bang: founder Nick Denton announced on Tuesday that the blog network is expanding into India by way of a partnership with the Times of India, one of that country’s largest media entities. The online unit of the Times will be responsible for managing and marketing the local versions of Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and will also be creating unique content for them, according to an IM conversation I had with Denton on Tuesday morning.
The Indian sites will join Gawker’s new Spanish-language version of Gizmodo — which launched on Monday — as well as local versions of various Gawker sites that have launched in Brazil, Hungary and the United Kingdom. In some cases, as with India, the local sites are run by partners in that country, and consist of translated blog posts from the U.S. site as well as some local content created by those partners.
Gawker’s partner in Brazil — a media entity called F451 — runs native versions of four Gawker sites (Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jezebel and Jalopnik) while the company’s partner in Japan runs just a local version of Gizmodo. And in Hungary, the Gawker presence consists of a site called Cink.hu, which isn’t really a copy of any of the blog network’s other sites and is run by Laszlo Szily, who worked for Denton when the Gawker founder was a Financial Times correspondent in Hungary.
Gizmodo’s new Spanish site and the Hungarian site are new variations on the model because they aren’t based on partnerships with local operators like the Times of India — they are both owned and operated by the U.S. company, using staff who write in the other language (although both will also run translated versions of Gawker content). Some of the staff at Gizmodo’s new Spanish version are based in New York and others in Spain, a result of Gawker’s recent acquisition of a local Gawker-style site called Guanabee, whose founder now runs Gizmodo en Espanol.
Gawker wants international to be 20 percent of revenue
I asked Denton whether the company is expanding internationally because growth in the U.S. market has slowed and he said no — according to the Gawker CEO, the blog network says it expects to see 40-per-cent growth in 2013, an even faster rate than it saw in 2012, although Denton didn’t say whether that was revenue or some other metric (Update: Denton clarified to me via Twitter that he meant revenues). He also said he wants to take international revenues to 20 percent of Gawker’s sales from the 5-per-cent level they are at currently, and that international deals are much more lucrative for Gawker because the profit margins are higher,.
As for what comes next, Denton said China is the biggest hole in Gawker Media’s portfolio of international properties. The company has been trying to set something up there but hasn’t been able to find the right local partner yet, he said, and therefore it may need to publish Chinese content from somewhere outside the country if it wants to make inroads into that market.
Denton also said that the company’s new Kinja platform has been a big part of the expansion, since it allows Gawker sites to host more active conversations and discussions than the previous version — including discussions that are sponsored by advertisers. Gawker launched the new platform last year, and Denton told me in an interview at the time that the focus on discussions awas going to be a big part of the future of Gawker.