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UK-based LGBT ‘PinkNews’ plots US growth from Berkeley

Gideon Bresler of PinkNews at his WeWork Berkeley office. Photo: Sarah Gerber
Gideon Bresler, US Managing Director of PinkNews, at WeWork Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Gerber

 This post is part of a series of business stories brought to you by WeWork Berkeley.

Earlier this month, a new survey found less than half of teenagers ages 13-20 identify as being exclusively straight. Even among 21-to-34-year-old millennials, who are just a few years older than the Gen Z group, over 65% identified as completely straight.

The global LGBT-rights movement has changed culture, politics, and gender as we know it. And PinkNews, one of the most widely read LGBT news sites in the world, has been there to cover it all. Through the United Kingdom’s fight for marriage equality, the transgender rights movement, and even adoption rights, the site has been covering news about sexuality and gender in the UK since Benjamin Cohen founded it in 2005. Now, the site is expanding with a US version, and is working to build a nationwide following right here in Berkeley.

“We saw a gap for news about sexuality and gender without adult content that was relevant to the entire LGBT community and our allies,” said Gideon Bresler, PinkNews’ COO and US managing director. “You can read it at work without being worried about any adult content appearing.”

For over a decade, the site has aimed to be a hub for straightforward news that relates to sexuality and gender, often acting as a “second-click,” or the place readers go to find more detail and context about a breaking news story. Bresler said that, while a number of their competing LGBT news sites appeal to an audience of gay white men, PinkNews is trying to expand to a more diverse and global audience. The site’s audience is majority women, 60% millennials, and 30% straight allies.


“We see ourselves as catering to everyone,” Bresler said.”We deliver the news about sexuality and gender in a very neutral way, but with our own voice.”

And, although the UK and US sites have similar voices, the topics and emphases differ. Balancing the different sites’ content takes expertise on behalf of the site’s four writers. Bresler said that while the UK has made enormous progress on many fronts of LGBT rights, in the US, “there are still huge fights to be won against discrimination, particularly in the transgender community.”

PinkNews' Gideon Bressler at work at WeWork Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Gerber
PinkNews’ Gideon Bressler at work at WeWork Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Gerber

And so, while the site aims to be informative, it also takes a campaign and advocacy role for LGBT rights — especially when it comes to coverage of the 2016 election in the United States, an issue of deep importance to many of the sites’ readers. The US site has an entire section devoted to the upcoming election, covering both general election headlines as well as  the candidates’ (and their endorsers’) views on LGBT equality. For example, one recent video breaks down Donald Trump’s views on equality.

But the coverage extends well beyond electoral politics. A normal day on the site includes a wide range of stories about dating, entertainment, sports, and heavier stories about discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people, both in the US and globally.

Of course, building a bigger audience for these stories in the US requires more resources and they are in the early stages of raising growth capital for the business. By offering a new site and by negotiating better deals with advertisers, Bresler and his team have increased advertising revenue by 50% over the past year. From brainstorming story ideas to finding new advertisers, Bresler is working out of WeWork Berkeley to grow the site’s following while he collaborates with the rest of the PinkNews team in London. He doesn’t need a lot of space — it’s only him stateside — but he does need flexibility, and having a dedicated desk at WeWork has let him focus on the tasks at hand.


“I don’t like working by myself in a room, and everything is taken care of,” he said of WeWork. “When I’m traveling to New York, Los Angeles and London, I use the WeWork spaces there, too.”

Plus, Bresler has learned about a number of services from WeWork’s ‘Lunch and Learn’ series. The lunch sessions highlight different businesses and services which make Bresler’s life easier (especially when it comes to the American tax system), and give him more time to focus on PinkNews.

PinkNews has more than 6 million readers and is already the largest LGBT+ site in the US, but Bresler and the rest of the PinkNews team have their eyes on an even greater audience. “There is a great deal of room for growth both in the US and across the world, with 350 million LGBT people (by some estimates) in the world, and many more straight allies.” Notably, the site is also a top-read LGBT news site in non-English speaking countries like Mexico or Germany, where Bresler says there’s a gaping hole for in-depth LGBT media.”

So, while the site is aiming to stay profitable and grow larger this year in the US, its mission is also broader. As Bresler described it: “We want to expand to much larger audience because we know when people are engaged it makes a difference in the march for equality.” He cites Germany as an example. “There’s an association between LGBT media reporting and LGBT legal rights — one of  the reason the US and UK have gay marriage and countries like Germany don’t is the absence of a strong LGBT+ media presence in Germany.”

 This story is written and sponsored by WeWork Berkeley, a community of professionals and entrepreneurs with beautifully designed office space at Shattuck and University. Interested in learning more about WeWork? Contact the Community Management team at berkeley@wework.com or 510-275-4235