- The Block has hired longtime Bloomberg News editor Sarah Kopit as editor-in-chief.
- The crypto news site wants to grow its newsroom from about 20 journalists to as many as 100 in the next two years.
- The Block says it makes tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue, equally from ads and subscription products.
Crypto news and research company The Block has appointed a Bloomberg News veteran as its new editor-in-chief as it plans to quadruple the size of its newsroom over the next two years.
Sarah Kopit, a longtime Bloomberg editor whose most recent title was “social media czar,” told Insider that while she is new to crypto as a subject matter, she views the role as an “opportunity to lead a rapidly expanding newsroom through this tumultuous new age where digital assets are going to be at the center of potentially almost everything.”
Kopit’s appointment comes during an arms race for journalists among the crop of crypto-focused news outlets, such as Decrypt, Coindesk, and Blockworks — which recently appointed WSJ alum Dan Keeler as its editor-in-chief — and traditional business publishers such as Insider and Bloomberg News, the latter of which this month launched a new weekly TV program “Bloomberg Crypto.”
The Block CEO Michael McCaffrey said the goal is to build the company’s newsroom to between 70 and 100 journalists over the next 24 months, up from its current staff of about 20.
Founded in 2018, The Block, which has grown to more than 120 employees from about 35 at the beginning of 2021, pairs news with a paid research arm. Its clients include Goldman Sachs, Stripe, Paypal, and sovereign wealth funds, according to a person familiar with the business. The Block raised about $4 million of funding prior to a management buyout last year, and now says it is 100% employee-owned.
With interest in all things crypto, blockchain, and NFTs skyrocketing, McCaffrey told Insider that the company is going after sophisticated readers as well as working professionals in the fast-growing industry, like employees at exchanges such as Coinbase.
“We want to be the go-to information source for those professionals that they can count on day-in, day-out,” said McCaffrey, who joined the company in 2018 as chief of staff and was appointed CEO in 2020, succeeding founder Mike Dudas.
The Block currently generates in “the low 10s” of millions of dollars in revenue per year, counts subscribers in the “high thousands,” and is not profitable, by design, as it invests to grow the business, McCaffrey said. He said that The Block makes about half of its money from advertising and the other half from subscriptions to the research service and premium news offering.
McCaffrey added that he looks to Politico as a media model The Block hopes to emulate, with its combination of a consumer-facing news business as well as lucrative industry-specific paid subscription product. Last year, The Block hired former Politico executive Bobby Moran as its first chief revenue officer. (Insider-owner Axel Springer acquired Politico for more than $1 billion last year.)
“I hope at some point [people ask], ‘Do we go to Bloomberg or The Block for a potential article or info?’ That’s really the goal,” McCaffrey said. “This is not a short story where we’re trying to grow at all costs and then sell.”
Kopit is taking over top editorial duties from a group of editors who have led the newsroom since its last editor-in-chief left in 2019.
A former breaking news and social media editor at Bloomberg, Kopit said that she will now embark on a global hiring spree for journalistic talent. She said that The Block already employs a newsroom full of crypto experts, but that reporters across topics like finance, government, and art have been forced to familiarize themselves with crypto and might be interested in making the jump to a more focused start-up.
“I have a feeling that there are a lot of reporters out there — even if they are not on the crypto beat per se right now — that are already brushing up on what this means to them,” she said.