New York Times disbands R&D Lab, pulls innovation closer to newsroom and advertisers

The New York Times Company has closed its research and development lab, founded a decade ago with a mandate to look “beyond the next product cycle, identifying trends and technologies that will emerge in the next three to five years.” Michael Zimbalist, who had overseen the lab, had already departed the Times in March to join Simulmedia, an advertising tech startup.

In a press release, the Times positioned this as a “rebirth” of the R&D lab. But key employees like Executive Director Matthew Boggie, Data Scientist Michael Dewar (right), and Creative Director Alexis Lloyd are leaving the newspaper.

Innovation Leader visited the Times’ R&D lab in 2015 as part of our New York Field Study event. Among the projects lab employees demoed and discussed were a “listening table” that could record and transcribe conversations taking place at it; a testing program for using aerial drones as reporting tools; and Madison, an archive of advertisements that users could help describe and categorize. The lab also developed, in 2011, a bathroom mirror that could deliver data to help you start the day.

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