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Protocol | Enterprise
Your guide to the future of enterprise computing, every Monday and Thursday.
Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Inside the Washington Post’s ambitions to be a SaaS power player

The Washington Post's Arc software subsidiary is expanding.​

Welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This Monday: the Washington Post's new enterprise software play, Panasonic gets into RPA and Tanium eyes a long-awaited IPO.

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The Big Story

The Post goes deeper into SaaS

The Washington Post's ambitions to become a software provider started in 2015 with the launch of Arc, a publishing tool used by leading media organizations like the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News.

The pivot to SaaS wasn't too surprising after Jeff Bezos purchased the company in 2013. And since Arc was developed with the Post in mind, it was easier to sell to other outlets that likely experienced many of the same pain points with prior content management systems. But now, the Post's software subsidiary is making a push beyond the publishing world.

  • Earlier this month, Arc Publishing renamed itself Arc XP and launched Arc Commerce, an ecommerce service that the Golden State Warriors is using as the backbone of its upcoming hospitality marketplace, SuiteXchange.
  • "They're using our entire suite to run this business," General Manager Scot Gillespie told Protocol. "It's the content creation, it's the commerce aspect of it and it's the actual site itself."
  • Arc XP has also signed big-name enterprise clients like BP, Reuters and AvalonBay Communities, signaling that demand for digital publishing tools extend beyond newsrooms.
  • "You can imagine how important that is" to sign those customers, said Gillespie. "It speaks to our value proposition and the unique offer that we have in the market."
  • While the company doesn't disclose revenue, it said sales were up more than 100% in 2020 and expects Arc XP Commerce will triple overall revenue in the next three years.

AWS serves as the primary backbone for Arc XP. And the Post relies on the cloud provider for many of its more advanced features.

  • It's one of the biggest customers of AWS Elemental, per Gillespie. And when onboarding a new customer, Arc XP uses up to 50 AWS services.
  • Amazon and Bezos' influence at the company is evident elsewhere. The Post was an early AWS customer. How it evaluated leaders changed to a more Amazon-like model after Bezos arrived. And CIO Shailesh Prakash even moonlights at Blue Origin.
  • But despite the hesitancy among some retailers to work with AWS over fears of aligning too closely with a competitor, Gillespie says it doesn't come up in conversations with potential Arc Commerce customers.
  • "We don't find it as a limiting factor," he said. "The value customers are getting [from] the platform will supersede any concerns they have about using AWS as a solution."

The Post isn't the only media company to attempt this transition. Axios, for example, recently launched software to help companies with internal communications. And the late Gawker Media once tried to commercialize its Kinja publishing software. But the Post, via Arc XP, has certainly gotten the furthest.

  • Gillespie claims Arc XP can replace as many as eight separate applications, which would help IT leaders with their perennial goal of streamlining the software suite.
  • "If you go with others in the market, you have to get a video solution. Or you have to get an ecommerce solution," he said.
  • Gillespie is reorganizing the company into three verticals to support the expansion into the broader enterprise software space: media and entertainment, enterprise and ecommerce. And Arc XP plans to hire 150 people over the next two years.

Successfully moving from a single-industry focus to offering solutions across industries takes more than just a brand refresh. The close backing of AWS, however, gives Arc XP a huge differentiator. And, of course, Bezos's fingerprints across the organization don't hurt.

Joe Williams

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL AND MICROSOFT AZURE

Financial fraud isn't waning, and as it increases, security tools designed to protect the data in use need to get stronger to combat more complex fraud. Confidential computing is going to play a big role in the future of financial services.

Learn more

This Week On Protocol

Epic takes (another) stand: The gaming company won't require that developers give it a cut of in-app sales on its PC storefront. While the move is a direct shot at rival Steam, Protocol's new gaming reporter, Nick Statt, says it's also an extension of Epic's legal fight against Apple. The companies are scheduled to go to trial next month.

Blockchain's bubble bursts: While there was a lot of hype over the past few years surrounding the technology, few enterprises are using blockchain applications at the scale with which they are using other tools, reports Protocol's Tom Krazit. Still, vendors and companies are still trying to find that killer app. And some even believe blockchain could serve as a critical foundation for a decentralized internet.

Five Questions For...

Chris Hass, Director of Information Security and Research, Automox

What was your first tech job?

My first job in tech was working for Geek Squad at Best Buy. I was pretty terrible at it because I would often fix customers' computers without charging a service fee or pushing tech support subscriptions. I got to see firsthand the huge impact that malware or even scammy tech support companies can have on the everyday consumer.

What was the first computer that made you realize the power of computing and connectivity?

I was raised in a very rural town in southwest Michigan, on a road that still does not have high-speed internet. My first computer that made me realize the power of computing was a gaming laptop I bought my freshman year of college. I was able to play video games with people across the globe with that computer, I wrote my first application on that computer and I may have cracked my neighbors' Wi-Fi password with that computer.

What will be the biggest challenge for cloud computing over the coming decade?

Over the next decade, security and privacy compliance will become more important and complex. There have been several new compliance standards since GDPR. With the changes coming to CCPA, and the everyday consumer becoming more aware and concerned about where their data is transmitted, stored and processed, compliance and security standards will continue to be developed and implemented more rapidly.

What is one book that changed your professional mindset?

"Tribe of Hackers" by Marcus J. Carey and Jennifer Jin. It's essentially a collection of security advice from many of the people I look up to in the industry.

Who do you look to as a mentor?

My father was always my biggest supporter and mentor. He owned and operated his roofing business for almost 50 years, never having a crew of more than two or three people. He was the hardest working person I know and he taught me some of the most important life lessons.

Around the Enterprise

A MESSAGE FROM INTEL AND MICROSOFT AZURE

Financial fraud isn't waning, and as it increases, security tools designed to protect the data in use need to get stronger to combat more complex fraud. Confidential computing is going to play a big role in the future of financial services.

Learn more

Thanks for reading — see you Thursday.

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