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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 21, 2000. All rights reserved.
Startups from Within: Neil Budde
Fast growing companies should plan for how big they
will be five years from now, so that the infrastructure of the company
— the funds, the personnel practices, and the internal communication
systems — will be ready, says Neil F. Budde, vice president,
editor, and publisher of WSJ.com, the Wall Street Journal Online.
Don’t take your planning a year at a time: "If every year you
say you are going to add 20 percent growth, it doesn’t necessarily
provoke you to rethink your organization, your structure, and your
systems for communication."
Budde, who supervises a staff of more than 150 people including 60
reporters and editors, is the keynote luncheon speaker for the capital
conference sponsored by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
on Friday, June 23, at 8:30 a.m. at the Princeton Hyatt. Cost: $35.
Call Kathleen Gaines at 609-341-2065.
Budde spoke in a telephone interview from Heathrow Airport in London,
where he had just finished presiding on a panel for Wall Street Journal
Europe’s CEO summit on the digital economy. He will discuss how he
tried to build a business inside a large organization that has competing
interests in other areas, and how he is trying to find a balance between
with the old economy and the new economy. "A company like Dow
Jones has various flavors of the old and new economies, and we are
constantly reinventing ourselves, having grown from three to 250 people
in four years’ time," he says.
Launched four years ago, Budde’s fiefdom, WSJ.com, has a paid circulation
of more than 438,000 subscribers. It continuously updates coverage
of business news both in the U.S. and around the world. Subscribers
have access to an archive of news articles from 6,000 newspapers,
magazines, and business news sources, plus customized stock portfolios
that can monitor stocks and cash in 57 currencies.
WSJ.com’s global online collection also includes technology coverage
from reporters around the world, and intraday news reports on trading
activities for all major global financial markets. A "Briefing
Book" reports on more than 20,000 companies world-wide and does
stock charting for Italian, Swiss, U.K., Australian, French, German,
Canadian, Hong Kong and U.S. companies.
WSJ.com has its own dedicated news staff, but it is supported by the
resources of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. "The Wall
Street Journal now employs more reporters and editors based in continental
Europe than any other business publication," says Budde. On WSJ.com
alone, not counting the business and sales staff, WSJ.com’s news team
has eight people in London, two in Hong Kong (soon to grow to six),
two in Brussels, three in San Francisco, and two in Washington.
Budde went to Western Kentucky University, Class of ’77, and has an
MBA from University of Louisville. One of four children, his mother
is a nursing administrator and his father is in industrial sales.
He was a reporter and editor at the Courier Journal in Louisville,
the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and USA Today. His wife, Virginia Edwards,
commutes to Bethesda, Maryland, where she is president of Editorial
Projects in Education, publisher of Teacher Magazine and Educational
Budde joined Dow Jones & Company in 1987 and was deputy editorial
director for Dow Jones News/Retrieval, supervising 75 people and supervising
the design and development of new information services, including
those in the area of natural language searching. Though he is not
a programmer, Budde worked with Visual Basic in 1993 to design the
Wall Street Journal’s first electronic media product for the consumer
market, Money & Investing Update, an interactive version of the Journal’s
third section. Also that year he was responsible for adding briefing-type
hyperlinks to the detailed information offered by Dow Jones. In 1996
this became the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition with coverage
extended to politics, economics, technology news, marketing, sports,
Laying the groundwork for good infrastructure might involve these
understands the goals and the mission, what you are working on now,
and how it fits with the overall picture. "Before, we had someone
in every group who was there from the earliest days, and there was
a natural sharing of knowledge, ideas, and ethics," says Budde,
but a growing company loses this shared set of experiences.
business within a larger company that operates under the scrutiny
of Wall Street. "To some extent, the constraints are self imposed,"
says Budde, "but at some point expenditures could start to hurt
the bottom line of the company."
employers comes when dot.com companies dangle stock options in front
of their employees. "We do face it all the time, we lose people
here and there," says Budde, "and we try and address it through
compensation and packages." The dismal dot.com stock performance
of the last couple of months has been helpful, he says, in reducing
the number of WSJ workers who want to jump ship. Dow Jones is also
looking into setting up a separate "tracking stock" that could
reflect the upside or the downside of its dot.com businesses.
something exciting and challenging, that is going somewhere. There
are intangible benefits that people are looking for, other than the
pure cash and option plays," says Budde.
Budde says he first learned to "turn on a dime" as a daily
journalist. To the quick pace of journalism, Web publishing adds the
need for product innovation.
In contrast to how the Web works, a new product in a print publication
may take months and months. The WSJ’s Weekend Journal, for instance,
was years in the making. In contrast, says Budde, "If we come
up with an idea, we can implement it pretty quickly on line."
It’s always difficult to balance the release times for a Web publication
versus the print publication. "The good news is Dow Jones has
had a long history of balancing real-time news wire with the print
newspaper, and we have it well worked out internally that certain
things appear first," says Budde.
Budde travels to London every couple of months, and his "lucky
charm" hotel is the Royal Horse Guards, in a quiet area near Trafalgar
Square. On every visit to this hotel he has glimpsed a member of the
royal family. For this visit, Queen Elizabeth dedicated a monument
just a few yards from the hotel’s front door.
What’s exciting to him now is constantly evolving a product, he says.
Just announced: Expansion of localized content around the world, such
as with enhanced coverage of European stocks. Subscriptions from countries
besides the U.S. comprise more than nine percent of WSJ.com’s total
with Europe representing the fastest-growing subscriber segment outside
the U.S., increasing 41 percent in the last 12 months.
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