Thursday Buzz: Gawker’s Founder Lays It All on the Table

Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, impresses with an honest blog post explaining a management shake-up—one that involves him. Also: lessons from a crowdfunding success story.

Sometimes, admitting that you’re struggling to see the big picture is the first step toward making a positive change.

On Wednesday, Gawker Media CEO and founder Nick Denton announced that he was giving up his solo leadership role and walking away from day-to-day operations of one of the internet’s largest (and often most controversial) blogging networks.  Gawker Media will now be run by a seven-person board, including Denton.

His reasons for doing so boil down to focus, or a lack thereof: Increasingly, he writes, he obsessed over one aspect of the business—the innovative commenting platform Kinja—at the expense of  the site’s editorial soul. And he admits to making a poor hiring decision in bringing on editorial director Joel Johnson, “whom I thrust into a job which changed under his feet.”

“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,” Denton wrote. “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.”

Johnson remains with the company, and the company hopes he’ll remain on board in a strategy role.

The post is a must-read for those interested in the mechanics of transitioning leadership and the art of admitting mistakes. Few CEOs get anywhere near as transparent as Denton does here.

If You Raise It, They May Come

The Foo Fighters are one of the most popular rock bands of the past two decades, but sometimes even the best need a nudge to figure out where their fan base is.

Andrew Goldin, a fan from Richmond, Virginia, recently convinced the band to play in his hometown for the first time in more than 15 years. And the way that he did it was sort of brilliant: Rather than pleading with the band, he launched a crowdfunding effort through Crowdtilt’s Crowdhoster platform, using a one-minute video and a multichannel campaign to raise nearly $70,000 in ticket sales before the band had even decided to play.

It was a bold strategy, but Naylor Association Solutions’ Tracy Tompkins notes that the real reason it worked comes down to sheer persistence. And that’s something  associations can apply to their own video content efforts.

“Producing a video isn’t the end of content creation; it’s one step along the journey toward your goal for that content—whether your objective is increased membership, educational outcomes, or a rock concert in your hometown,” Tompkins writes on the Association Adviser blog.

Other good reads

Your odds of being productive are best when you first wake up, 99U notes. That’s why you shouldn’t waste that time by surfing the internet.

We’ll just leave this here: the long, winding tale of a Harvard professor who threatened legal action against a Chinese restaurant because of a $4 overcharge on his takeout order.

Signs Bitcoin is going mainstream: Now Microsoft, one of the largest companies in the world, accepts the cryptocurrency.

Gawker's Nick Denton, right, shown with another online publishing hot-shot, Business Insider's Henry Blodget. (Financial Times/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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