Thought Catalog is an experimental media company that sells display advertising against millennial eagerness to convert their personal lives into shareable content without any compensation other than the social capital of being liked and followed. Media critics who mistake it for a generational literary manifesto often find themselves mired in irrational hatred of the website when, really, they ought to save their breath for Thought Catalog’s obvious progenitor, Facebook. The true sign that a company’s ambitions are more business-oriented than artistic—insofar as Thought Catalog can be considered such—is coverage in the capitalist bible Forbes. Which it now has.
Please take a look at Thought Catalog founder Chris Lavergne’s Q & A with Forbes contributor Matthew Newton, which is–unsurprisingly–quite canny.
Matthew Newton: With the traditional journalism model in perpetual upheaval, and brand-influenced content a pervasive and creeping reality, Thought Catalog seems to exist in a strange and sometimes controversial limbo between the two. Does the site have any guiding principles, or is that part still a work-in-progress?
Chris Lavergne: This is a layered question and I’m only going to be able to scratch the surface. On the most basic level, we are an experimental media website dedicated to providing great content. What defines “great content” is and probably always will be an open question and work-in-progress, but right now one of the things we are consistently striving for is to find a balance between commercial success and quality work. The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but there is definitely a tension. What is happening now with Buzzfeed is a perfect example of this gray area. Here you have a site steeped in viral, user-generated content now attempting to complement it with real reporting. Getting this balance right might be the new paradigm.
Still not ready to take Thought Catalog seriously? For the record, there are some things about the Q & A that are strange enough to reaffirm any doubts one might have about the company.
- The Thought Catalog founder is shown in a sexy, v-neck portrait shot by Noah Kalina.
- The Thought Catalog founder will not disclose his age or his previous employer, a Wall Street consulting firm.
- The journalist interviewing him has contributed over 60 articles to Thought Catalog.