“We’ve been doing this nearly ten years,” Gawker chief Nick Denton tells his staff. “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.”
Denton writes in his memo:
* “The days of the banner advertisement are numbered. In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform.”
* “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.”
* “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.”
The full memo is after the jump.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Nick Denton
Date: Thu, May 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM
Subject: New business initiatives at Gawker — and the managers who are going to run them
To: All Staff
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.
From: ray wert
To: [Gawker and Jalopnik addresses]
Cc: Nick Denton
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 4:00 PM
Subject: Jalopnik’s got a new driver
As you all saw in Nick’s email to the staff, my six-and-a-half year reign of terror end this month at Jalopnik and I’m movin’ on up the management ladder, ending my streak as the Gawker sitelead with the highest longevity. It’ll finally give either Annalee Newitz at io9 or Adam Pash at Lifehacker the chance to catch up with me. That said, we will soon have a new driver over at Jalopnik — Matt Hardigree, the hardest working writer and editor I know.
Matt started with me — 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 the one 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.
As you can see, even by that metric, what we’ve accomplished has been impressive — especially given our small team.
What we have accomplished was only made possible by some of the amazing talent I’ve been honored to work with. Matt, chief among them.
Matt’s been a friend, and almost like a brother to me — and I’m going to miss working with him every day. But I’m confident he’s got what it takes to not only continue to make Jalopnik the greatest automotive culture site on the planet — but to grow it into something much more.
I’ll be saying more in a post on Jalopnik later this evening, but for the moment everyone please congratulate Matt Hardigree — he’ll be starting as the new editor-in-chief of Jalopnik when he gets back from a much-needed vacation for the next two weeks.
And don’t worry, I’ll be right downstairs — and still working hand-in-hand with all of you as powwow continues its roll out.
Thanks for the amazing ride,