Wired January 2017 Cover

Publishing a monthly magazine for 25 years is, now more than ever, a feat, and Wired isn’t holding back in celebrating having it made it a quarter century.

The magazine is hosting a four-day event in San Francisco in October to honor its 25th year. Basically a festival crossed with a high-profile conference with tickets priced between $35 and $2,150 being sold, the event has some big names coming in for the occasion. Speakers lined up include Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer; Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft; Sean Parker, founder of Napster and an original backer of Facebook who’s since become more of a philanthropist; Kevin Systrom, ceo and founder of Instagram; Susan Wojcicki, ceo of YouTube, and Sundar Pichai, ceo of Google, which owns YouTube.

Getting so many people together at the same time is a trick, and editor in chief Nick Thompson admitted that it was a little slow-going at first.

“We came up with a dream list and we called them all and no one said anything for a while, then they all started saying ‘Yes,’” Thompson said. “No one wants to be the first.”   

There are more big names to be revealed, most of whom will be talking on the first and last days of the event, while others will be sprinkled throughout a weekend that will include technology reveals, robots, virtual reality experiences and meet and greets.

As for whether he feels any awkwardness in being a relatively new editor in chief celebrating 25 years of the magazine, he said his five years as a senior editor at Wired in the Aughts gives him a sense that he’s far from a carpetbagger and that his tenure, interrupted by seven years at The New Yorker, “is a legit part of Wired’s history at this point.”

But he does feel a responsibility to the past and seems aware, or maybe just grateful, to be at a magazine that’s still around after 25 years and managing to pull through the momentous shift toward digital advertising and content.

“Coming in at this crazy point in media is a burden…but it feels good to help Wired continue on its [successful] path,” Thompson said. “Yeah, there’s not as many print ads as we used to have, but we have other revenue streams now.”

Those include affiliate marketing and digital advertising, but also the paywall Wired started about six months ago. Thompson said subscriptions so far have exceeded expectations but “it takes a while to know for sure” what’s sustainable.

But the anniversary celebration itself is also a revenue driver, as its set to be a ticketed and sponsored event. Although Kim Kelleher, chief business officer for Wired and a few other Condé titles now grouped in its “innovation collection,” said the goal of the event was not “Let’s make a lot of money.”

Kelleher, too, noted Wired’s success with bringing in revenue outside of newsstand sales and print advertising, a change that started before a lot of other titles, and sees Wired at 25 years old as a brand that’s “morphed its business model” found sustainability and sits “exactly where I’d hoped it would be.”

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