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Harvard, a Media Company

The Generalist: “Harvard, a Media Company. Harvard Business Review is a surreptitious media giant. Actionable insights –  If you only have a couple minutes to spare, here’s what investors, operators, and founders can learn from Harvard, as a media company.

  • There are different paths to success. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) was founded in 1922 and struggled to breakeven for more than 25 years. Today, it’s one of the world’s most impactful media organizations.
  • Media can turn expenses into revenue. Plenty of businesses devote time to content marketing. But by building a media arm worth paying for, companies are able to turn marketing expenses into a revenue stream.
  • The next HBR could be built by a startup. Edtech companies and fundraising platforms look well-positioned to run the Harvard playbook and create a durable, valuable media arm.
  • Adapt or die. HBR adapted its content and form multiple times over its history to appeal to contemporary readers. It did so while preserving its foundational value.

Harvard Business School is a bigger media company than Forbes.  Though best known as a home for higher learning, America’s most prestigious scholarly institution is sneakily, surreptitiously also a publisher par excellence with financials to match.  Since its founding in 1922, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) has become a defining voice in the media landscape, bolstering the authority and reputation of its parent organization, while simultaneously bringing in hundreds of millions in revenue.  It begs the question: is Harvard Business School ​​​a media company in disguise? And if it is, who else might unknowingly be a publisher, wrapped in another business?  We’ll interrogate these questions in today’s piece. In particular, we’ll touch on:

  • HBR’s long road to success.
  • How the Review compares to other publishers.
  • The case for Harvard as a media company.
  • Other media empires in the making…”

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