The South China Morning Post will spin-off its blockchain-based NFT business to form a new company called ‘Artifact Labs’. At launch, SCMP CEO Gary Liu will take on the responsibility to oversee the expansion of Artifact Labs, while remaining CEO of SCMP during a global search for a successor for the publishing group. Upon the appointment of a new CEO for the Post, Liu (pictured) will transition fully to Artifact Labs.
Currently, a global search for the next CEO has already begun to take SCMP to the next phase of growth, Liu told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE . However, the organisation is not in a rush to fill the spot as the new CEO will need to be someone who can really further accelerate SCMP's core business growth can take what the team built over the last five years to the next level with new and different opportunities.
“We are looking for someone who deeply understands users because the business is about users. One of the major evolutions of the South China Morning Post is our data type and technology stack that has allowed us to become actual real-time user experts,” he said. Moreover, the individual must be able to bridge industries, cultures and people with a very meaningful mission.
Liu added that he is very proud of all that has been accomplished over the five years. “There was initially a morbid curiosity on whether or not we would be able to do it. And then as we started beating all of the odds, people were trying to figure out how we were able to accomplish what we've done. And I'm very, very proud of that,” he said.
Joe Tsai, chairman of SCMP, added that with Liu’s experience running a news organisation and extensive expertise in technology, the organisation felt that he was the perfect person to lead the new effort in Web3 and explore future growth opportunities for SCMP.
Currently, Artifact Labs is being positioned as an independent company and will be tasked to deliver long-term growth in its blockchain business and create value for the SCMP audience, users, content creators, partners and other stakeholders. Nonetheless, SCMP will continue to be a shareholder in Artifact Labs, and will seek third-party capital to help fund the company’s growth. “SCMP’s creation of ‘Artifact Labs’ to explore the potential of blockchain applications for media is a transformational step for our 118-year old organisation,” said Tsai. “With Liu’s experience running a news organisation and extensive expertise in technology, Liu is the perfect person to lead our new effort in Web3 and explore future growth opportunities for SCMP,” Tsai said.
According to the company, the investment into the Web3 future of media will accelerate SCMP’s revenue and enterprise value growth “while allowing the publishing group to remain focused on its core mission of delivering fact-based journalism and objective analysis to millions of readers around the world”. The launch of Artifact Labs will also accelerate the development of decentralised applications that bring historical assets onto the blockchain and help connect collectors and communities around the world, said SCMP. The new company plans to launch a marketplace designed for the sale and trading of historical NFTs that serves a growing community of collectors, publishers, libraries, museums and any institution interested in the preservation of history.
The announcement builds on the successful launch of ‘ARTIFACTs by SCMP’ on 14 March, the Post’s first NFT drop featuring the publication’s contemporaneous capture of historical events, which established historical NFTs as a new digital asset class.
“Blockchain holds great potential for the media industry and SCMP is committed to leading in technological innovation and new business development. The founding of ‘Artifact Labs’ is part of this mission,” said Liu. “We expect that millions of people will own ARTIFACTs issued by media, historical and cultural organisations around the world, and that historical NFTs will be the gateway for many users into Web3.”
Liu added that the transformation the company has been through is actually the reason SCMP has been able to experiment and invest into Web 3, and SCMP wants to jump on the opportunity to effectively move physical archives that exists all around the world onto the blockchain. “We saw a business opportunity for this which would provide a different type of funding and a completely new channel funding for these organisations that do the hard work of preserving history,” he said. Moreover, there is a huge community of people around the world that have interest in collecting and therefore participating in the ownership and the preservation of historical assets, Liu explained.
“The vision is to really create a universal standard - a marketplace and a platform with a series of products - that allows cultural institutions that protect history and have archives to onboard on the blockchain easily,” he said.
With Artifact Labs, Liu is now focused on hiring the right team. He adds that the team will remain lean and in start-up type mode. "The personnel that we bring on board artifact labs will be very important,” he said. Currently, Artifact Labs has several new initiatives and developments underway, but Liu did not disclose more at the time of writing.
“Frankly, we are only at the very beginning of what the SCMP can and will do in the NFT world. We have an opportunity in the early months to bring on board, many major partners, famous institutions around the world, and help them also develop a Web 3.0’s future,” he said.