The Axios Manifesto

4 min readNov 30, 2016

All of us left cool, safe jobs to start a new company with this shared belief: Media is broken — and too often a scam.

Stories are too long. Or too boring. Web sites are a maddening mess. Readers and advertisers alike are too often afterthoughts. They get duped by headlines that don’t deliver and distracted by pop-up nonsense or unworthy clicks. Many now make money selling fake headlines, fake controversies and even fake news.

Can you imagine Ford being obsessed mainly with whether the engineers love the howl and design of the F-150 engine, instead of simply delivering an awesome truck people want to drive? Never. But that’s what digital media companies too often do. They produce journalism the way journalists want to produce it. And they design their products to maximize short-term buzz or revenue — not deliver the best experience possible.

We are engineering Axios around a simple proposition: Deliver the cleanest, smartest, most efficient and trust-worthy experience for readers and advertisers alike.

Our guiding principles include:


The data on what news readers want is unmistakable: content they can trust — delivered way, way more efficiently. No bias. No nonsense. Every piece of content we produce will be broken and narrated with true expertise — and then summarized in one shareable element. You can decide whether to go deeper. Often, there’s no need. We have one agenda: help people get smarter, faster. So we designed our content to move seamlessly from our platform to other ecosystems, including Facebook and Snapchat, to meet readers on their terms, not ours.


Make reading, watching and listening as clean and reader-friendly as possible. This means killing everything from banner ads and pop-ups to topic pages and other web features designed for clicks, not usability. Our site eliminates traditional click-based pages AND allows you to view our content without leaving your stream of news. Our design guru, Alexis Lloyd, coined the term “elegant efficiency” to guide our every iteration.


Assume smart people want smart content — on our platform and beyond. Many don’t want serious news and information. We focus only on those who do — and then resist all the traffic-based temptations to dumb things down. We have hired people with social media superpowers and asked them to quit using those powers to attract traffic for traffic’s sake, and instead use them as a force for good: Getting smart content in front of readers on our platforms and on Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn and other social ecosystems.


It’s hard to argue with a straight face that newspaper ads, or banners, or expensive, glossy native advertising programs are the most effective means for communicating. We developed a lower-cost, more measurable and adjustable way for advertisers to do native advertising within our platform AND within our content on Facebook. We want to work with advertisers so they feel they get awesome, measurable value — and the respect and return they deserve.


If you think about your evolving habits for consuming news and information, you realize you have less time, and a shorter attention span. Our content, our ads and our platforms are designed specifically to adjust to these new habits and demands. We aim to make the experience more substantive and meaningful — and therefore more valuable. When we pull this off, it will free people up to spend time on content truly WORTHY of their time, on our platform or elsewhere.


Media is a tough business. But it is a business, not a right, or charity or hobby. You distinguish yourself by delivering at a very high level on promises you make to news consumers, advertisers and subscribers. We believe life is simple: If we think big, deliver on our big promises, and show authentic appreciation for those who read and support us, we will be successful. So, thank you for reading this.

  • Alayna Treene, former First Word intern, Bloomberg
  • Alexis Lloyd, former creative director, The New York Times R&D Lab
  • Ali Rubin, former head of global events, Pinterest
  • Bubba Atkinson, former editor-in-chief, Independent Journal Review
  • Caitlin Owens, former healthcare reporter, Morning Consult
  • Catherine Sheffo, former data reporter, Capital News Service
  • Claire Kennedy, former talent acquisition manager, Politico
  • Dan Primack, former senior editor, Fortune
  • David McCabe, former staff writer, The Hill
  • David Nather, former Washington editor, STAT
  • Greg Ruben, former senior interaction designer, Moment
  • Jim VandeHei, former CEO, Politico
  • Juli Shepel, former vice president analytics, Porter Novelli
  • Justin Green, former news editor, Independent Journal Review
  • Karina Carlson, former account manager, Politico
  • Kate Gaertner, former head of strategy, Politico
  • Kayla Cook, former director of executive operations, Politico
  • Kim Hart, former press secretary, Federal Communications Commission
  • Kim Schaich, former vice president, PPR Worldwide
  • Matt Boggie, former executive director, The New York Times R&D Lab
  • Mike Allen, former chief White House correspondent, Politico
  • Nicholas Johnston, former managing editor, Bloomberg
  • Robin Groulx, former senior producer, Independent Journal Review
  • Roy Schwartz, former CRO, Politico
  • Shane Savitsky, former litigation paralegal, Slevin & Hart P.C.
  • Stef Wasko, former writer, Veer Magazine
  • Steve Brill, Founder of The American Lawyer, Court TV, Journalism Online, and The Yale Journalism Initiative
  • Susan Gravatt, former recruiting associate,

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