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Chicago Executive sees the future of media business in the “cottage industries”

By Amy A. Ross

In some ways, Julian Posada’s approach to the media business resembles the old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Rather than targeting the large mass audiences of the twentieth century, his philosophy captures the need to capitalize on the niches. “It all boils down to the secret sauce of no fear and unlocking value in the smallest pieces,” said Posada during a visit to a Northwestern classroom at the beginning of the month.”I don’t see an end to that, but with a reality check: you are not getting $100 million dollar businesses anymore,” he said. “You work with small cottage industries and those can be successful.”

Northwestern professor Gregg Latterman, who is teaching an MSLCE course this quarter, invited Posada to speak to a group of his students in NUvention: Arts, an interdisciplinary course at Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Posada currently holds the position of Executive Vice President at Wrapports, the parent company of the Chicago Sun Times, where he has been working since 2014.

Prior to taking up this position at the beginning of 2014, Posada’s worked for the Tribune Company, where he was named General Manager for Hoy in 2010. There, he oversaw the production, circulation, marketing and advertising sales. He also founded Café Media LLC in 2008, a startup media organization targeting second and third-generation Hispanics. In spite of his resume, Posada says he doesn’t see himself as a media executive at all. He warns that doing so means risking the focus on the relevancy of the audience. According to Posada, his CEO often gets frustrated with him and wants him to think bigger.

However, he maintains his stance of making 30 small bets instead. “You can monetize, but not at the margins that these guys are used to,” he told the students. “Because we are in a more desperate state than other newspapers, we are innovating a lot faster and we are blessed to have an investor group who wants to prop up journalism and wants the Sun Times to survive.” Under Posada’s watch, this innovation has included bold experiments such as the bitcoin pay-wall the news organization tested last year. Posada’s portfolio also includes a stint as President of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club and ample experience with non-profits.

He is currently on the board of directors of organizations like YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the Taproot Foundation, and the Chicago Parks Foundation. According to Posada, his “bug for entrepreneurism” started on the civic side. Before attending Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, he worked as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. “I am really bullish and optimistic on finding value and figuring out ways you can not only monetize it, but also have fun, solve problems and do a bunch of other stuff,” he said.