That didn’t take long. News broke today that Vox Media has acquired Recode, a new(ish) tech news blog co-founded by respected journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, both formerly of the Wall Street Journal. Terms weren’t disclosed, however, it was noted to be an all-stock deal.
With the deal, tech juggernaut The Verge, one of the most largest tech blogs in existence (over 24 million people visited the site last month) joins forces with Recode and share the same parent Vox, who continues to expand its blog empire. Thanks to industry connections, particularly within Silicon Valley, Walt and Kara, although operating a significantly smaller operation (with a staff of about 40) were still able to score breaking stories first, and to get inside perspectives on various industry news.
When Arianna Huffington sold Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million in cash, the term “blog” became somewhat less, well… less bloggy.
In an understandably enthusiastic post, Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, said the merger was “going to be fun” and overall investment will continue to increase, with an interesting note that the video team alone will double in size over the next few months (video continues to be a key strategy in new media, especially in the last twelve months).
It will be interesting to see how The Verge and Recode (which I’ve seen referenced as Recode, ReCode, and Re/code) sort their respective reporting duties. Clearly The Verge reviews products, covers the lifestyle of tech and how it impacts us day-to-day. Meanwhile Recode has been primarily interested in the venture scene, organizational changes, and acquisitions. There is a clear delineation, at least on paper, and while the audiences likely overlap to a degree these are separate readerships. The belief is 1 + 1 = 3. And, I suspect Vox will continue to build core publishing services — such as video, coding, events — into a pool of assets all sites can draw from as needed, thus reducing operating expenses, and giving the company the ability to out-scale its competition (Gigaom a recent casualty).
The news is an impressive outcome for Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. At the end of 2013 things soured when the Wall Street Journal decided not to renew their contracts. They started Recode, which launched January 2014. So, in only 18 months they’ve gone from WSJ to starting their own tech site (which also hosted high-profile tech conferences) to being acquired by the fast-growing Vox Media.
In a note to readers Walt and Kara say that that Recode will continue to “publish under the same name and leadership.”
New media continues to be an interesting space. Once upon a time the term “blog” was synonymous with a lone wolf shooting venom from the hip in all directions. Taking on the mainstream. Daring to voice her opinion with unadulterated glee. A lot of that still holds true, but when Arianna Huffington sold Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million in cash, the term “blog” became somewhat less, well… less bloggy. Turns out there was serious potential — that small players could take on the establishment (notably, news print). Now, I suspect we are enterting a maturation phase. Larger players are acquiring smaller players. And, wouldn’t you know it, just like we saw in the 20th century publishing model, conglomerates are once again being born. The difference perhaps related to the fact that these are all digital enterprises — Recode, The Verge, SB Nation, Eater, Polygon, et. al. were born purely of digital intention, with no paper legacy to drag down a fast moving, ambitious vision.
So long lone wolves, you are no longer railing against the man. You are (almost) becoming the man. But, of course, I still love you, and The Verge and Recode will remain as two of my favorite go-to tech sites.