Over the last 7 and a half years, I’ve had 10 different desks, 7 different titles, and 5 different bosses. I’ve logged over 250,000 miles in business travel (with only 2 missed flights!), spent over 4 months in hotels and AirBnBs, and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in T&E and production budgets. The first ad deal I touched was worth a measly $4,000. Some of the last deals I worked on were worth over a million (mostly thanks to an excellent team of sellers, creatives, and operators I consider friends). I don’t know how many interviews I’ve done, but I got to hire and manage dozens of amazingly talented, passionate people (and a few unfortunate duds). You know who you are...on both sides! I’ve overseen thousands of drinks poured (never losing a soul to an EMT or police officer), met 2 babies conceived by company couples, and saw the sun come up on a SoHo roof 4 times.
I did all of this at one place. Gawker Media. And after spending the majority of my professional and adult life at this one spectacular, unique company, it’s time for me to scratch the 7 year itch and explore what else is out there.
tl;dr: I’m leaving Gawker Media and my last day in the office will be July 3rd. Some blubber, for those interested, to follow.
This place will always have a very special place in my heart, and while I’ve had my disagreements and complaints over the years, I am not leaving with an ounce of bitterness or disgust on my breath. On the contrary. Though it seldom gets much attention when it plays out like this, it is possible to leave this place on the warmest of terms. Nick has built a magnificent organization, and while he has his shortcomings (we all do), he’s the first founder I’ve ever met who can so readily and publicly acknowledge his and yours. His dedication to transparency—operational and otherwise—is deeply inspired and something I hope to take with me for the rest of my career and life. Being a part of an independent, profitable media organization focused on giving the readers the unfiltered “story behind the story”—no matter how uncomfortable—is something I am extremely proud of. That’s a proudness I’ve felt ever since the week I accepted the Ad Ops Associate job here and the NYT’s asked “Has Gawker Jumped The Snark?” (The answer, obviously, is no. It will forever be no.)
Instead, I’m leaving because it’s simply time for me to forge some of the other paths available to me on this strange, beautiful mortal coil.
I won’t go into all the inner-workings of what went on here for the last 3/4s of a decade (saving it for the book), but those who were a part of it know just how exciting and revolutionary it felt at times. From writing some of the first sponsored posts in 2008 to helping build one of the first publisher creative studios in 2011 through to today’s expansion into video and next-level brand awareness, we couldn’t have done any of it without the help of some ridiculously talented people. I am sure I’m forgetting some, but bear with me while I try to recognize a few of the lesser-known people who helped make Gawker Media what it is today.
Andrew Gorenstein is like an older brother who I’ve traveled the world with and will surely work with again one day. He is one of the fiercest, most loyal people I’ve ever known, and his understanding of the media industry has taught me so, so much. Erin Pettigrew hired me in the 89 Crosby “Conference Room” (/storage closet) when I wasn’t old enough to drink, and then expertly talked me through the various tumults of working for a rapidly growing start up. Scott Kidder is one of my best friends; anyone who doesn’t understand what he does here doesn’t understand how the world works. Samantha Winkleman was the best creative partner I’ve ever had, she and the strategy team deserve infinite praise and payment for their patience with me. Justin Cross & Megan Gilbert were my art/copy backbones (I have multiple backbones, apparently), hiring and managing incredibly thoughtful teams of writers and designers who are all some of my favorite people to work/hang with. Victor Jeffreys II is a creative ball of energy who is intoxicating to be around (often literally, he is a walking party). Taryn Schweitzer is the best second pair of hands I’ve ever had, thanks for trying to keep me on schedule. Sarah Ramey and Jesus Diaz are video visionaries. Ryan Brown is a troll but he’s the smartest troll I’ve ever met. Ask him for a deal on Titty Towels. Michael Orell, Jeff Hilder, Camie Baker, Mike Lindsay, Mollie Horan, Daniel Morgan, Mia Libby, Michelle D’Alba and all of the newer sellers I never had a chance to work with directly are so much more creative and dedicated than your typical sales team, dare I say they love this place more than they love all the money they make the company. Same goes for Eyal Ebel, but that’s because he’s deep under cover most of the time (sorry for blowing it, please don’t hurt me). John Price and Michael Kuntz are the best travel partners and young dads I know. Lindsey Jaffe, you’ll always be my proudest (and first) hire. And Heather Dietrick is one of the fiercest defenders of the first amendment I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. Random shout out to her husband Dan who is—as many Dans are—The Man.
To all my friends in art & editorial, I look forward to continuing to party with all of you in the new space/Dardy Bar and pitching you absurd article ideas. And to my friends on the business team, you are one of the best in the biz, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t take too much shit from anyone (not that you need to be told). Tech...it’s been a pleasure sitting on your floor for the last 6 months, you are easily the smartest people at the company by a mile. Follow the vision. Budapest, you have a lovely city and an even lovelier team, thanks for the hospitality and support at all hours of the day and night. And operations, I deeply apologize for the endless messes, the lost keys, the forgotten expenses, the abnormal contracts, everything I’ve ever broken and every headache I’ve ever caused you. You keep this crazy place going and you don’t get nearly enough credit for it.
There are also a number of co-conspirators and sherpas from a time long past, people like Chris Batty and Gaby Darbyshire and Tom Plunkett and Gabriela Giacoman. Michael & Jane Cascio (Levin). Mere Katz. Diane Schwartz (Rose). The Lawsons. Waty. Frooch. Schweiz. Daulerio. Kate. Keelin & Dylan. Paul. McGill. Joel (you’ll probably call me a twatwaffle or something for writing this but I still think highly of you). Foster. Blakeley. Blam & Mascari. Jim. Nate. Keri. All the members, past and present, of the GSC. You knew me in my most formative years, please tell no one what you saw.
To the family, friends, and relationships that inevitably suffered due to my aggressive work and travel schedule, I appreciate you letting me do me all these years. I’ll make it up to most of you. And to the countless clients, contributors, vendors and friends I’ve made in NY, Chicago, LA, SF, and everywhere in between: Thank you. You made every day an adventure and I’m so humbled you continually answer my sporadic calls, texts, emails, party invites and 2am tweets. I promise to throw one last party at 210 Elizabeth Street so we can all burn this place down together before Gawker moves to 5th Avenue, and I’ll most definitely be in your city this summer.
What’s next for me? Well, I firstly plan on enjoying my first summer vacation without a job in 15 years. But being a savage workaholic, I’ll also be taking on a handful of amazing projects with some amazing people, like experiential movie screenings, producing a film and some other web #content (PODCAST COMING SOON!?), and writing my Gawker Media tell-all, Too Insidery: The Gawker Media Story (publishers, get in touch...j/k, kinda). I of course will continue to throw absurd parties and late night gatherings as the opportunities present themselves, so if you’d like to work on something together or just hang out at the beach during the week this summer, you can reach me at my no-longer-secret personal address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just follow along on my Twitter, that works too.
And to definitively prove to all of you that I am actually just millennial trash who is treating his job departure like a bleary-eyed fucking yearbook entry, I leave you with a quote from Jimmy Eat World that I often scribbled on the white boards around the office during fits of creative frustration:
And the mindless comfort grows
when I’m alone with my big plans.
And this is what she said gets her through it,
“If I don’t let myself be happy now, then when?
If not now, when?”