Peter Kafka

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Nick Denton’s Payroll Shrinks by One: Right-Hand Man Noah Robischon to Fast Company

On the same day Gawker Media’s Nick Denton makes a splash with dire pronouncements about the future of media, he is also doing some internal reshuffling: Right-hand man Noah Robischon is moving on to Mansueto Ventures, where he will oversee Web operations for what the company is calling “Fast Company Media.”

That means that instead of beating on editors at Denton’s dozen-plus blog properties, he’ll be overseeing Fastcompany.com, fastcompany.tv, and scobleizer.com; the company downsized that group just last month. He’ll report to editor/managing director Bob Safian.

The timing here is coincidental, Robischon says–he says Fast Company came to him two months ago. And he wants to make it clear that this is his move, not Denton’s. Noted.

But I’ll go ahead and draw at least one connection: On the same day that Denton calls on publishers to trim their headcount, he’s losing his highest-ranking editorial staffer. And he’s not replacing him. Going forward, all Gawker editors will report directly to Denton. Pause for shiver here.

Bonus tidbit: Robischon’s move means that he’ll be in charge of tireless videoblogger Robert Scoble, a frequent target of Denton’s Valleywag.

Is there a memo? Of course there is a memo. Two of them! It’s 2008. Excerpt from Denton’s email to his staff:

Noah’s presided over a tripling of traffic and the triumph of our tech sites such as Gizmodo and Kotaku over their competition. Obviously, the group managing editor job has sucked more recently–Noah’s been the one that’s had to deliver bad news and do much of the planning for cost cuts as the downturn has worsened. But he’s done a hard job with as much grace as one can. It’s an amicable departure.”

And here’s Safian’s introduction:

From: Robert Safian
To: Fast Company Editorial; Fast Company Ad Sales; Fast Company Marketing
Cc: John Koten; Terry McDevitt <tmcdevitt@mcdevittmedia.com>
Sent: Wed Nov 12 12:53:39 2008
Subject: New fastcompany.com executive editor

I am delighted to announce that Noah Robischon, formerly the managing editor of the Gawker Media network, will start as the new executive editor of fastcompany.com as of December 1. Noah will oversee all the digital activities of what we’re now informally calling Fast Company Media, including fastcompany.tv, scobleizer.com and our other specialty properties. He will report directly to me.

Noah is a terrific talent with significant depth of experience. He started at Gawker as editor of gadget blog Gizmodo and doubled monthly traffic to 10 million page views in less than two years. He was then tapped to oversee all 12 of the Gawker sites, which include some 80 contributors. In less than two years, page views grew to 297 million a month (up from 150 million). He also launched the fastest-growing site in the network’s history, io9, in January 2008; it is already at 7 million monthly pageviews.

But Noah is not just a digital guy. His experience extends across other media as well. He has written for print publications from the now-defunct Brill’s Content to Entertainment Weekly to The New York Times, and worked as writer and story editor at TV outlets from VH-1 to New York 1. Noah is also an even-keeled, likeable guy who should fit in well with our team.

This high-profile addition is indicative of the ambition and commitment we have to fastcompany.com. And there is no better time, we believe, to invest in ramping up our efforts–just as others are pulling back. Our digital operations have a sound foundation in the fastcompany.com community (more than 140,000 members, some 1800 member blogs, etc). Now we will layer on the additional editorial resources that will take us to the next level. Noah is committed to leveraging the editorial resources of the magazine and emphasizing the agenda that has been so successful in print: from technology to sustainability, design to entertainment. Innovation in all its forms is our hallmark. We are already at work assembling a team of influential writers to contribute to the site daily, and in anticipation of Noah’s arrival have already begun iterative tweaks to the site’s format, design and content. Page views are up sharply in recent weeks, and we expect progress to continue and accelerate when Noah is on board full time.

My deep thanks to all those on the Fast Company Media team who have contributed to the site’s surge over the past few weeks. I know these efforts did not happen without sacrifice. I also know these contributions will continue in the weeks and months ahead as we all help fastcompany.com to realize its potential. I have already shared with Noah all of the suggestions that emerged from our team-brainstorming exercise, and he expressed great enthusiasm for the ideas and ambition embedded in your work.

I’m sure you’ll all give Noah an appropriately robust Fast Company welcome when he arrives. December 1 will certainly be a banner day for all of us.

Thanks,

Bob”


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