Under the Radar with Jonny Kaldor

Laura Rutkowski

Despite being the Co-founder and CEO of Pugpig, Jonny owns neither a pug nor a pig, and counts Dennis Publishing, The Economist, Condé Nast and Hearst as clients...

Jonny Kaldor 

What inspired you to start Pugpig?

Back in 2010, Jon Marks and I had been working at News Corp, building a brand new consumer business that would allow people to buy bundles of digital media to be consumed on mobile – a lot like Apple News will be in about a year from now. It was pretty ground-breaking stuff (the iPad had yet to be announced when we started the project) and we were collaborating with the biggest media and technology companies in the world. Unfortunately the project got canned six weeks before launch and so we decided to go and do it ourselves, not as a consumer brand, but as a b2b platform – we took our experiences from News Corp and used them to create Pugpig, a platform that was truly unique in the market at that time.

Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?

We kicked off in February 2011 and our first customer was Dennis Publishing, who asked us to build an app for The Week. It was the beginning of a wonderful relationship, and to this day, they remain one of our most important customers.

Launching The Week put us on the map. From there, we picked up business mainly through word of mouth and gradually grew the team. We’ve taken no investment, so our growth has been pretty steady over the last seven years. Recent highlights have to be taking on The Economist, Condé Nast and Hearst, along with a current run of high-profile news media brands. Right now, our goal is to build the future platforms for the publishing industry and in order to do that we’re working more and more closely with our customers to determine exactly how those platforms need to work.

Do you have a go-to work outfit?

Sadly, yes I do – black jeans and black t-shirt (although they’ve all faded, so these days it’s more of a dirty grey).

What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?

Nothing really – I think I just get on with it, although I have often been seen with my hands full of tangerines when we’ve been up against it (very rock and roll).

What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?

Flying home from Las Vegas in a private Boeing 737 with Rupert Murdoch.

What would people be surprised to know about your job?

I don’t have a pug. Or a pig.

Walk me through your “typical” day.

Right now I’m based in New York, so I get up, run along the West Side Highway, have a shower and then have calls with the UK team and the odd European client. From mid-morning onwards, I’m either trying to meet up with publishers based in the USA or getting together with potential partners. I also seem to be doing a lot of conferences right now – I think for a business like ours, it’s important to get out there and meet as many people as possible.

If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?

I’d most likely be cooking. 

What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?

Sourdough bread

A loaf of sourdough that I cooked yesterday.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Walkers cheese and onion crisps.

Whose phone number do you wish you had?

Damon Albarn’s – he’d be great to headline [tomorrow's] Pugpig Picnic...

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“I’m pretty sure they’re not poisonous.”

What/where is your happy place?

Hanging out with my kids.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have pretty old kids! Immie who’s 19 and Oscar and William who are 17 and 13.

What would be in your Room 101?

My room 101 would be crammed full of people misusing apostrophes and referring to me as “yourself.”

Introvert or extrovert?

Introvert masquerading as an extrovert.

Optimist or pessimist?

Optimist.

Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?

Film, although I watch endless food programmes (currently on a rerun of Floyd on France).

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee (although I swap it for green tea when I’m trying to be zen).

Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?

Flushed face emoji

Cringey. Although, I heard that they increase push notification open rates by 124%, so use them! I probably use flushed face the most.

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