Apr 13, 2021 - Economy

Graydon Carter's Air Mail outlines ambitious growth plans

An "air mail" postage stamp next to a photo of Grayson Carter

Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images

Former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's new media venture, Air Mail, expects to employ 40 people by year's end, up from 30 today and 10 at launch in 2019, Axios has learned. It currently has over 75 editorial contributors.

Why it matters: While some have criticized the outlet as a nostalgic attempt to recreate print online, its strategy has helped the company seamlessly transition into new revenue streams like e-commerce, where brand authority is important.

  • Air Supply, the company's new e-commerce shop, is billed as a "Highly Selective Storefront," selling a high-end list of curated goods from $595 Lanvin sneakers to $18 retro cycling hats.
  • Every week, a new editorial trend inspires a curation at the top of the feed with new inventory available for purchase, a spokesperson tells Axios.
  • "Our readers are global in their outlook," Carter tells Axios. "Because the staff is made up of Spy and Vanity Fair vets plus a great mix of smart young tyros, Air Mail is, we believe, the most sophisticated combination of old school rigor and new school smarts out there."

Between the lines: Air Mail launched as a weekly subscription newsletter for highbrow individuals. Its content is accompanied by glossy, print-like magazine ads from premier brands, a reflection of Carter's days at Vanity Fair.

  • A subscription to Air Mail costs about $80 per year, up from $50 a few months ago. The company does not disclose subscription numbers, but says its subscriber count grew 147% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Air Mail allows just one premier advertiser to run against its content in each newsletter each week. It's worked with 53 unique advertisers, mostly from high-end brands like Hermes, Gucci, Celine, Tiffany & Co, HBO, Apple TV+ and Ralph Lauren.

Details: The company has several newsletters in addition to its premier Saturday email, including a Wednesday Week in Culture Newsletter, a Thursday Book Report Newsletter, and a Friday Pilot Newsletter for kids, AirMail JR.

  • The company has recently started to expand out from its digital roots, launching podcasts and expanding into brick and mortars.
  • In September 2020, Air Mail launched its first podcast called "Morning Meeting" (M.M.).

What's next: This fall, a spokesperson says Air Mail will be branded on newsstands in Milan, in addition to London.

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