Troy Carter's Atom Factory Debuts News Vertical Smashd

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Troy Carter

Troy Carter has already successfully tackled artist management, tech start-ups and even his own bottled water. But for his next act, Carter's Atom Factory is venturing into perhaps its trickiest territory yet: business journalism.

Smashd.co, which debuted March 2, is a new online news vertical dedicated to uncovering the personalities and trends in "tech, culture and hustle," in the site's parlance. Smashd is the result of a six-month plan hatched between Carter and Lori Kozlowski, a former writer-editor at Forbes who focused on covering entrepreneurs and the L.A. startup scene.

"It came from internal conversations we'd been having around the office about where we get our news and information from in the morning," Carter says. "You'd go through blog after blog, and for us -- living between the tech, music and pop-culture worlds -- it just didn't feel like there was one place where we could call home or a hub, especially as told through a very original lens."

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Kozlowski was soon brought on board as Smashd's editorial director, with established writers like Adam Popescu (Fast Company, Mashable), Lisen Stromberg (New York Times, Newsweek) and Tameka Kee (Digiday, AdColony) among the site's writers and contributors. The initial content is a carefully curated mix of stories and videos that meet what Carter calls a mix of "Forbes meets Fader" -- an interview with Nas about his tech-investment firm QueensBridge; a Fast Company-esque analysis on the need for more female entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, a Q&A with Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover and a cautionary piece on emailing in entertainment post-Sony Hack. 

Carter hopes Smashd will carve out its own niche separate from some of the more "announcement-style" journalism that pervades a lot of tech blogs and magazines. "It's very rare when you can get a real glimpse inside the life of an entrepreneur. So for us, most of the stories we're gonna be covering, like through a series called 'In Residence,' will give a glimpse inside their environment."

Carter is not alone in his move toward digital content. Fellow music managers Ron Laffitte (Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder) and Scott Rodger (Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire) became founding investors last June in Anthemic, the new venture from Filter magazine co-founder Alan Sartirana. And in December, industry titan Irving Azoff (the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac) and comedy client Chelsea Handler were announced as key participants in a $6.5 million Series A funding of e-newsletter The Skimm (Carter, incidentally, was also an investor, as was iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman).  

And though Carter has access to more than 40 entrepreneurs through Atom Factory's AF Square Ventures (which has investments in companies like Uber, Dropbox, Spotify, Genius and Prizeo), Smashd will primarily focus on tech execs outside Atom Factory's immediate network, like Kiip co-founder Brian Wong and Styleseat CEO Melody McCloskey. "There's lots of low-hanging fruit in our network, but our net is open wide to whomever we're inspired by," Carter says.

Smashd is independently funded by Atom Factory, with an ad-free model at launch and a digital-only distribution plan. "I don't think there will ever be a need for a print counterpart for what we're doing. It's all digital for us, and possibly taking some of the programs we're shooting and creating long-form versions that we'll probably end up selling to television networks. Our thing is just to be able to get the content wherever the people are."