CNet has an interesting, fairly long interview with Josh Quittner, who was formerly the director of Time Inc.’s digital magazine strategy as well as’s editorial chief before quitting to take a job as editorial director for Flipboard. Quittner is a veteran tech journalist and editor, which makes it all the more fascinating he would take a position at such a young startup.

Quittner explains that he was drawn to Flipboard by the changes that are taking place in the context of magazines. Flipboard represents a chance to break out of the traditional one-size-fits-all template magazines have used for years, and also a chance to “save” journalism by creating a sustainable digital model.

He talks about the experimentation Flipboard has been doing in its first couple of years, including starting an advertising program with Condé Nast.

What we’re going to do is put on the brakes there and really study it, because what’s not needed is another unsustainable advertising model in new media. What is needed is a really smart way of turning advertising from a nuisance into a service. We have a very real chance of being able to do something like that.

He also discusses the fears that Time executives had that social media and electronic reading devices were going to cannibalize its print product. Quittner feels that the key to success is not depending on a single monetized product, but on figuring out how to earn revenue from content wherever it appears.

Going forward, my belief is that Flipboard is going to be a very powerful revenue stream for these companies: not only will you be able to monetize through us, but also you will be able to use [Flipboard] to bridge to your other kinds of content. So for instance, look at Oprah or Wired or The New Yorker on Flipboard–aside from their regular advertising they are also advertising their iPad apps because it’s a way of bringing content to people and getting them engaged in ways that may be difficult in other media.

He also mentions the forthcoming iPhone version of Flipboard, though he doesn’t discuss it in any detail except to say it will work differently from the way the iPad version does. (I’ll be interested to see it, but am 99% sure it won’t work on my old first-generation iPod Touch.) He also notes that Flipboard isn’t thinking in terms of “responding” to the competition from the copycat social magazine apps that have sprung up in the last year, because “it’s far more important to beat your own best” than to be pulled off-course into responding to what someone else does.


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