The Athletic co-founder Adam Hansmann: 'We believe there is a $1b company to build here'

With over $100 million in outside funding, The Athletic is quickly racking up subscribers, recently crossing the 600,000 mark.
Hitting 1 million paying subscribers would put The Athletic in rarefied company: "You're talking about companies like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and a couple of others," said Adam Hansmann, the site's co-founder, on this week's Digiday Podcast. "Being in that kind of rarefied air, we'd feel at that point incredibly secure in the foundation we built. We see 90% engagement weekly during busy sports times. We see 80% of our subscribers renew. Getting to that point, we feel good about the platform's permanence. Long term, valuations concerns in the short term aside, we believe there is a $1 billion company to build here, which might sound crazy. But if you look at The New York Times, with their 4 million digital subscribers, they're a $1 billion publicly traded company."
"We have a one of a kind business that we've started," he said. "We're going against every instinct that the industry has had."
The Athletic, which now has 500 employees, has its share of detractors, who note the company's path to profitability will be perilous with its penchant for paying top salaries for writers.
"I think there are 50 million sports fans in the US at least," he said. "The segment of sports fans we're targeting are people that really care. That know the difference between just a headline about a story, 'who won the game,' and the true insight about the teams that you really care about."