Digital Publishing Platforms Top Stories
3 mins read

Washington Post’s Arc CMS becomes a major revenue stream, as the publishing tech expands beyond media

repeating pattern

For the first time, The Washington Post’s digital content management platform—Arc Publishing—has licensed its technology to a company outside the media industry, the energy giant BP.

Arc offers a suite of tools engineered to meet the demands of modern publishers, and BP’s communications team will use Arc to publish articles and videos across 250 internal websites, newsletters (and a future mobile app) for its 70,000 employees.

“Arc allows our comms professionals to concentrate on producing that content, rather than navigating multiple publishing systems,” said Geoff Morrell, global head of communications and external affairs for BP. “What’s more, its flexibility fits perfectly with our write-once, publish-anywhere strategy for digital publishing.”

We realized that many large companies are essentially publishers,” said Fred Ryan, The Post’s CEO.

With Arc, The Post has established itself as a technology leader and innovator that has revolutionized what companies—publishers, broadcasters, and now brands– should expect from their content management systems.

Fred Ryan, Washington Post’s publisher and CEO 

Arc is designed to support content creators across industries, offering a state-of-the-art tech stack that incorporates the publishing expertise of The Washington Post,” said Shailesh Prakash, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Product Development at The Post.

“The deal may be an early indication that Arc Publishing can become a more valuable business than the newspaper,” notes Rob Williams, contributing editor for Publishers Insider at MediaPost. “Arc Publishing can become a key value-added service for Amazon’s cloud computing clients, while generating healthy licensing revenue for the newspaper.”

Bloomberg reports that Arc expects to generate $100 million in annual revenue within the next three years, and Prakash says that he sees it becoming the Post’s third major revenue stream.

I’m very confident this will be comparable to our advertising and subscriptions business.

Shailesh Prakash, Washington Post’s VP of Product Development

Till now, Arc has primarily focused on the needs of major news publishers, and its clientele comprises publishers of more than 600 websites worldwide, including The Boston Globe, Tribune Publishing and Raycom Media. 

Arc is one of the few companies that sell publishing tech. Its competitors include WordPress and Vox Media. 

WordPress’s parent company, Automattic, raised $300 million this month from the tech giant Salesforce. And Vox, which just announced the acquisition of New York magazine’s publisher, New York Media, licenses its publishing platform—Chorus—to various media outlets, such as The Ringer.

Arc has an advantage, because it is tied to Amazon’s cloud computing operation, Amazon Web Services, and is built by the Washington Post.

Arc is building on its incredible momentum in the marketplace, The Post says. PageBuilder Themes, Arc’s first out-of-the-box offering, drastically reduces the time it takes to stand up new sites, equipping brands as well as publishers and broadcasters with a quick-turn solution to get up and running fast. 

Bloomberg reports that Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and owner of The Washington Post, is highly involved in Arc’s development, and meets with the engineers roughly every two weeks to discuss the software’s development and future roadmap. Bezos recently suggested that Arc switch to a serverless architecture, and that has made the product faster and cheaper to run.

Last month, The Dallas Morning News relaunched its website, which the publisher says now loads 3x faster than its previous iteration. It licensed The Washington Post’s content management system, and Mike Orren, DMN’s Chief Product Officer, claims it is now the fastest news site in Texas.

“Arc’s new deal with BP could lead to other non-media companies licensing its software,” says tech journalist Anthony Spadafora, “and perhaps one day, Arc could even pose a real threat to WordPress’ dominance in the CMS market.”