Atlantic Media’s Government Executive group continued its aggressive expansion this week with the announcement that it’s spinning-off one its verticals into a standalone venture.
The new digital content and events brand, called Route Fifty, will serve the state and local government space, with an emphasis on tech and best practices—an extension of the state and local government channel the company launched last summer.
Michael Grass, hired to run that state and local vertical last year, will head up Route Fifty as executive editor while it prepares for a launch later this spring. He’ll bring on another two editors for his staff, in addition to building a network of freelancers and in-market contributors.
The move is another step toward the market diversification Government Executive has been pursuing for the last several years, says Constance Sayers, president of the group. It’s a strategy that’s worked so far, with group revenue up 20 percent year over year.
“State and local is growing in spending and hiring, and a lot of that growth is being driven by technology—cloud computing, data and analytics, cybersecurity, for example. Those are topics we cover a lot with Government Executive, so it makes sense for us,” she says. “We were also finding that a lot of our clients now have their federal, state and local marketing practices housed together. That allows them to shift investment based on market trends. Our clients were starting to reach into adjacent markets, so it made sense for us to do the same.”
Largely, Route Fifty is following the model established by Defense One in 2013, and Quartz before that, says Witherspoon. From launch needs to audience targeting to expansion plans, the company has built up considerable expertise in branching out to new markets from those prior experiences.
For its part, Defense One has grown rapidly in the year-and-a-half since its launch. The brand started small at first, but added 11 staffers last summer, and is generating more than 600,000 unique visits each month.