It’s an interesting choice, because most of Big Human’s past experience has been on the tech and startup side — past clients include Jetsetter, 1stDibs, and Samsung. (Big Human’s founder Rus Yusupov was also a co-founder at Vine.) In fact, the studio has never worked for a news site before — something that managing director Steve Spurgat said is an advantage.
“Some of Big Human’s biggest success stories are set in industries we had never tackled before,” Spurgat told me via email. “Jetsetter was our first travel site, and we were with them from when they were a small team up until their recent acquisition. 1stDibs was our first ecommerce site, and our redesign had an huge impact on their numbers.”
The Time.com team has been hiring heavily for the relaunch — the company said in May that it was hiring 30 new staffers, an increase of about 50 percent. Managing editor Edward Felsenthal and head of product Daniel Bernard (who both joined recently) told me that the redesign goals include placing a bigger emphasis on the mobile experience, as well as (in Felsenthal’s words) “drawing on our really massive social reach.”
Time says that Time.com had 27 million unique visitors in July, up 40 percent year-over-year, with mobile and tablet traffic accounting for nearly 30 percent of that total.
Asked about why they chose Big Human in particular, Bernard pointed to the studio’s success with e-commerce. Not that Time.com will be unveiling a bunch of new commerce features — instead, Bernard said that perspective can help Time.com figure out “how do we merchandise our news and surface things a lot of different ways?”
We of course examine what other news sites are doing well and not so well, but we treat much of our ideation as if Time.com is the first news site in the world. It’s amazing that a brand like Time, with its deep-rooted history and prestige, is onboard with that approach. In the history of online news, I doubt you’ll find such a big news brand working so tightly with a twenty person agency that’s famous for working with startups.
Meanwhile, the company also announced today that it has hired Jeffrey J. Bairstow as its executive vice president and chief financial officer as it prepares to spin off from Time Warner.