Nick Denton will no longer serve as the sole manager.
The inner circle of Gawker leadership will consist of seven managing partners, including Mr. Denton, who will assume the title of CEO. Heather Dietrick has been promoted from general counsel of Gawker Media to president, where she will act as Mr. Denton's deputy. VP of business development Erin Pettrgrew, who Digiday labeled "the most important person at Gawker you've never heard of" in October, will take the position of chief strategy officer. As Mr. Denton announced earlier this month, Deadspin editor Tommy Craggs will be promoted to the newly created position of executive editor. Andrew Gorenstein will be promoted to president of Gawker Advertising, Scott Kidder will be chief operating officer and Tom Plunkett will be chief technology officer.
Gently throws Joel under the bus:
Even when I'm here, if I'm obsessed by something, other parts of our common project can spin off in unpredictable directions, causing me to overlook developing risks and opportunities. As Joel said, I am the company's greatest asset — and it's greatest liability. To be saved from myself, like many of us, I need partners in the fullest sense of the word, to take up the slack or keep me on focus. And I didn't have them.
During this period I made a mistake in Editorial, hiring a talented guy whose voice and vibe I loved, who represented nerd values, and whom I thrust into a job which changed under his feet: he was competing with Lockhart Steele of Vox and Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, two of the most effective editorial managers in the business, each with the funding to go after the very best talent.
I was so obsessed with the design of Kinja discussions, I didn't even think to warn that Gawker is always first about the story. I took that for granted. I was in so much in a hurry that I didn't even look at other candidates, a cardinal sin. I made a mistake, and I'm sorry to Joel, and I'm sorry to those to whom he is a friend.
Denton's introduction/explanation of the management staff:
It's okay for all of us to make mistakes, especially when we're moving fast — so long as we learn from the experience, and we don't repeat the same one twice. That's all we're doing here: iterating endlessly, through words and software, to make the world a more open, hopeful and tolerant place. This is my new iteration.
First, I recognize that I need a backup. I intend to be fully engaged next year — in the helpful-to-others-at-work sense, rather than about-to-get-married and distracted. But you don't know that absolutely for sure. I need someone who can act with my authority if I'm not contactable at least by video call.
Now there will be a permanent deputy, someone who can represent the company in public and who sits above the big departmental interests — the barons, I call them. This person must be universally regarded as fair. A tall order, but I think we have the candidate.
Second, I need to share power more broadly. I need a team, a group I can trust to act in the best interests of all of us. I need to be edited. I need advisors with whom I can be fully candid, and who can be candid with me, even when it's uncomfortable. I'm told seven is the perfect number for a team (or an online conversation, for that matter).
So I am naming the first six managing partners — seven, with me included — with whom I will consult on major matters such as tech investments and the reassignment of department heads. The partnership will make decisions by consensus, or majority vote if any managing partner dissents. We are collectively committed to the company's independence. Alphabetically, ending with myself:
Executive Editor: Tommy Craggs
Tommy inadvertently sparked this whole reshuffle, but not out of any personal ambition. If anything, I feared he wouldn't take a position that a friend had so recently occupied. It's only because of his sense of obligation to colleagues that he's accepting the appointment.
What Tommy did was simply to set me thinking, through something he said during a conversation just as Gamergate was subsiding. "I just want to break a fucking story." Or maybe it was "I just want to fucking break a story." One of the two.
Anyway, it got me thinking. Yes, that's exactly it. That editorial freedom we're so proud of: just do something with it. Something meaningful, more meaningful than a toxic flame war that showed only the internet's capacity to divide, and none of its capacity to reconcile.
Then I went off the rails, as I do, and asked myself: damn, is Gamergate really our story of the year? You are only as good as your last story, that's what they would say on Fleet Street. Yes, we do need to break a fucking story, or fucking break a story, whichever it was. And we need to grab hold of our own company narrative, change the conversation in the only way we know how, through sensational scoops and unfettered opinion.
Anyway, the only person telling me this is Tommy, and then comes the realization that we'd have a better chance of being great, of breaking fucking stories, with his inspiration. Even Harry Potter reads Deadspin, for God's sake. What more endorsement do you need?
Supporting Tommy will be Lacey Donohue as Managing Editor and John Cook running Investigations. Other appointments will be made before Tommy starts officially on January 1.
Editorial management's mission for next year is simple. Here's your budget. Break some stories. Expose the story behind that story. Say what others cannot or will not. Make us proud. This is the one of the greatest editorial openings of all time. Don't fuck it up!
President: Heather Dietrick
Heather will be my deputy. She's perfect for this, a much better official representative of the company than a half-Hungarian homosexual could ever be. Heather will arbitrate, especially when I'm out of the office. And she will propose decisions to the managing partners. That's what few people understand about Heather: she's about the most decisive person at the company. Also, there's this: she prepares most of the documents that I sign; I'd rather she be the one signing off on them too.
Heather will retain responsibility for legal affairs. She will take on internal and external communications. For programming of the new space on 2 West 17th Street, to turn it into a hub of real-world and video-ready discussion to complement Kinja's online, Heather has tapped someone from within the company: James Del, who will be joining her as head of programming. Moving with James to Heather's department: Victor Jeffreys, who will handle events for all departments.
President, Advertising & Partnerships: Andrew Gorenstein
A promotion for Andrew Gorenstein. Richly deserved: Andrew has grown revenues by more than 30%. Actually, Andrew would never say that. Let me get that right. We have grown revenues by more than 30%. With Andrew, it's always a We. Go, team!
And I have to thank Andrew too for warning me we were headed in the wrong direction — gently, artfully, menschily. Not just in the wrong direction, but toward an iceberg, with the captain in his quarters, and that was actually the dream he had that set all this off. Andrew is the very best head of advertising sales and e-commerce that I could possibly imagine for Gawker; he is my business partner. He has made us all better. Andrew will stay until he has enough money to retire; I am happy he has expensive tastes.
Among those reporting to Andrew will be Michael Kuntz of Sales, ascending head of Business Development Ryan Brown, and starting this week as head of Studio, Paul Sundue from the agency world, specifically DDB New York.
Chief Operating Officer: Scott Kidder
Scott is essential. Nothing would work without him, from finance to people and culture to facilities. (The gorgeous buildings we're moving into next year, in both New York and Budapest, are his projects.) Beyond overseeing these key functions, Scott works with me and the other Managing Partners on our most important initiatives — Scott knows everything. And everybody knows that Scott knows everything. That is all. Scott is being promoted to COO.
Chief Strategy Officer: Erin Pettigrew
Erin has been at this company, and immersed in online media, almost as long as I have. By the testimony of her staff, she is the most respected unit head in the company: scarily organized, scrupulously fair, and wholly logical. Even before she's formally started, it's clear Erin will have a transformative effect on product strategy and management, which will fall under her. The mood on the second floor is palpably more light. Erin will be a more open partner to the engineers; that will be eased by shared palinka in Budapest, which Erin knows as well as any other American at the company.
CTO: Tom Plunkett
As the Tech team learned on Monday, once Tom has helped identify a suitable replacement, he will be shedding the CTO role to lead a product innovation team of five people. Tom and I have shared a vision — intimacy at scale – for better discussions on the internet for half a decade. We can keep talking, but it's time to do so as a group, including others, and it's time to actually build.
It is my hope Tom will join the Gawker Media board and he will be a permanent member of the Product steering group, which decides on priorities. He continues to be vital to the culture: Tom was the one who got us all to read Ed Catmull's book on his light-touch management techniques at Pixar, a book that had a powerful effect on my thinking.
But he may now finally have the time and the resources, the managerial support and the freedom from administrative distractions to fulfil our longstanding dream: such filtering and personalization that discussions feel like a friendly debate or exchange of information.
No, headhunters: he is not in the job market. As I said, Tom wants to write code, he wants to keep together this Tech family we've built. The culture of our development teams — both pleasant and talented — reflects Tom and Keki's character. I think of them like a couple, and in a sense they are, both essential to the connection between Budapest and New York. We will all retire together to Lake Balaton.
CEO: Nick Denton
Yep, I end up with a title I don't even like. For the longest time I called myself Publisher. I was once a magazine guy, and I liked the archaic ring. CEOs seemed like such douches. If I was going to be a douche, I'd be a douche with a different title.
The fact is that I would like to end my career as a behind-the-scenes powerbroker, a Deng Xiaoping of Gawker Media, exerting discreet influence through obscure committees. It's more my style. Or maybe I can merge with the benign AI that will evolve from Kinja discussions.
But my fellow partners won't let me do that just yet. The chainsaw-wielding octopus scares off not only potential acquirers; it scares even the most competent of executives. Just look what happened to Pierre Omidyar when he wrestled with John Cook and company at First Look. Or that accidental Facebook founder so injured by The New Republic, a lightly-armed squid, if that.
Anyway, I've negotiated a compromise deal. I will continue my duties as CEO. I will be relaxed and confident in the knowledge that I have a capable deputy. I will be able to participate in editorial, product and advertising brainstorms, without so overpowering the conversation. I really hope that. And in the new year, give me a few days, I want to resume the activity that brings the best out of me: blogging.
As a company, we are getting back to blogging. It's the only truly new media in the age of the web. It is ours. Blogging is the essential act of journalism in an interactive and conversational age. Our bloggers surface buried information, whether it's in an orphaned paragraph in a newspaper article, or in the government archives. And we can give the story further energy by tapping readers for information, for the next instalment of the story, and the next round of debate.
The natural form of online media is the exchange, not the blast. Tommy's ethos gives us the best chance of recapturing the honesty of blogs, before their spirit was sapped by the tastes of the Facebook masses. "We put truths on the internet." That's Tommy's motto. I can subscribe to it. Dauntingly, it's down to our writers to provide a constructive but critical voice in an American culture. And it's down to our product managers, designers and developers to encourage a similar tone in the discussions sparked by stories.
That's the bulk of it, but you can read more at New York Observer.