Michael J. Wolf

Gourmet Live: The First Massively Multi-Player Magazine

Compliments to our chefs.

At midnight, Gourmet Live went live in the app store. We all stayed up staring at our screens until the familiar “G” icon came up in iTunes. We smiled and watched the first downloads and the first rewards postings on Facebook and Twitter. Whew!

By this afternoon, it was the number one lifestyle App and was featured by Apple in the iTunes Store.

We’ve been on a fast track or I should say fast fast track since April, when Activate collaborated with CondeNast to re-imagine Gourmet as a new digital experience. Our idea was to combine great content with game mechanics and social sharing: a Massively Multi-Player Magazine.

So food lovers — the app is free. Of course, we built on the legacy of Gourmet Magazine. And then we set out to create something entirely new: the aim was to make it native to the device, built on the features of today’s most popular applications, intuitive and intensely social. In addition to the over five million passionate Gourmet readers (including me), I think it will bring in a whole new set of food lovers who will enjoy the experience of reading and unlocking new content rewards. Your appetite will be satisfied; Gourmet Live will deliver a new “issue” or experience about twice weekly.

We started with admiration for Gourmet’s promise of good living through food culture: dining, travel, recipes, restaurant reviews, holidays, occasions, wine and the role food plays in our society. Is your mouth watering yet? Our strategy was to build the new Gourmet as if it were a new start-up (but with the Gourmet brand and 70 years of amazing content).

Activate created a “virtual start-up” — an A team of the best talent on both coasts: Paul Ford, Garrett Murray, and Andre Torrez took Gourmet Live from concept to reality in two months and then less than two more to launch.

Juliana Stock, Gourmet Live’s founding General Manager was both Creative Marketing Director at CondeNast and at the same time an integral member of team. So much for regular hours and a full night’s sleep.

Elizabeth Spiers and Kelly Senyei have started a new tradition of Gourmet content with Gourmet-quality writers and photographers.

And, overall, Chuck Townsend and Bob Sauerberg (Conde Nast’s CEO and President respectively) saw Gourmet Live, and the technology which powers it, as part of their strategy to create web-scale consumer audiences for CondeNast’s brands and content.

When my business partner Anil Dash and I formed Activate, we set out to create a strategy consulting firm re-invented based on the realization that media and entertainment companies are reinventing themselves. They have to! We all have to react to the reality of how people use media and technology now.

This new GourmetLive is a hot-spiced demonstration (ok, enough of the food analogies) of Activate’s unique approach to business innovation — in the speed that rapid change demands.

From this day on, breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks are on us–on Gourmet Live.