As many of you may already know, my six-and-a-half year reign of terror at Jalopnik ends this month. That's right, I'm movin' on up the management ladder, ending my streak as the Gawker editor with the highest longevity. That means we will soon have a new driver here at Jalopnik — Matt Hardigree, the hardest working writer and editor I know.
Matt started — as all great editors do — by lying to me. He told me, in order to get an internship with Jalopnik during the Chicago Auto Show — way back in February, 2007, that he had a DSLR camera. He had no such device. Instead he had a bulky point-and-shoot that, if I remember correctly, saved directly to 3.5" floppy discs. But what he lacked in equipment he more than made up for in his ability to get a story. And it's that tenacity that has served him so well over the years — and made him an invaluable piece to the Jalopnik puzzle.
And what a fun puzzle it's been to put together. When I started working at Jalopnik under the tutelage of Mike Spinelli and Davey Johnson, if we had more than 25,000 page views in a day it was a cause for celebration. Today, despite the metric itself now being somewhat outdated, if we're not breaking a million page views a day then something's broken.
Because I'll have more opportunities to talk about myself in the coming days — and I hear Matt's got some fun roasts planned today. Speaking of which, Matt's going on vacation for the next two weeks. He's earned it. But over the next two weeks we'll be welcoming back Wes Siler into the fold as a guest editor — and we'll of course have our usual cast of characters like Jason Torchinsky, Ben Preston, and Raphael Orlove.
So, for the moment I'll just leave you with this note from Nick Denton on why I decided to take this promotion — and leap into the business side of the company:
We've been doing this nearly ten years. I'm not nearly ready to retire yet — or cash in. But we need to recognize there's a new generation of management at Gawker Media. Today I'm going to talk about Ray Wert, Erin Pettigrew and Scott Kidder.
We are creating a new content department within sales to be headed by Ray. It will encompass the existing creative services team and several additional functions: primarily branded content, marketing communications and events. Ray is the first editor to move to sales. (Ray's deputy Matt Hardigree will take over Jalopnik.)
We all know the conventional wisdom: the days of the banner advertisement are numbered. In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform. Expanding on our existing sponsored post program, Ray's team will recruit and identify a client's spokespeople and advocates, advise them on web etiquette and language, and help make their most persuasive case.
Ever since the Cluetrain Manifesto, marketers have tried to adopt a more human and conversational tone in their communications with customers. The web may finally be ready to deliver on that promise.
The second main growth area for Gawker Media is content-driven commerce, ranging from affiliate marketing to in-page transactions. A historical tidbit: the original business model for Gizmodo was affiliate fees from purchases of gadgets through Amazon. We didn't have the scale then to make that work. We do now. In December we made $70,000 from Amazon. Without really trying. No seriously, it was an accident.
E-commerce has been in limbo between sales and operations departments — and has accordingly never received full attention. We will rectify that. Erin will continue to work on the direct business, managing sales strategy, marketing and operations. But in addition she will take responsibility for business development, revenue partnerships and e-commerce integration.
In particular, we will be looking for revenue growth from affiliate partnerships and mobile. But Erin's mandate will be to optimize our entire revenue mix.
Joining Erin and Scott (about whom more in a future email), Ray will be on the operating committee. You know those Monday morning meetings in the red room or the glass conference room upstairs? Yeah, well that's the operating committee. Fancy name, eh? It's as close as we have to a management group.
Beyond the boost to three egos, these changes carry with them a few implications. First, we expect that the banner ad business will be supplanted by our content services and content-driven commerce. Second, unlike most companies during this bubble, we are planning for an independent existence for the next decade and beyond. And we don't need to hire big names from outside to get us there; we grow our talent in-house.
So, see, you have no one to blame for me leaving but yourselves — if you were looking at more banner ads, maybe I wouldn't have to leave. This is why we can't have nice editors.