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The Vox Media-Re/code deal, explained by Vox Media’s CEO

Vox Media's CEO, Jim Bankoff, sits between Re/code's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
Vox Media's CEO, Jim Bankoff, sits between Re/code's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
Photo via Re/code

On Tuesday night, Vox Media — the parent company of Vox.com — announced it was purchasing Re/code, the technology site/conference juggernaut started by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Jim Bankoff, the CEO of Vox Media, sent a companywide note laying out the deal — how it will work, why it's happening, and what it means for both sides. His note was helpfully formatted as a Vox explainer, and with his permission, it appears, with light edits for clarity, here.

(For more on the Re/code deal, read this piece by Nilay Patel, editor of Vox's sister site The Verge, and marvel at his exceptionally tight GIF game; or watch Mossberg, Swisher and Bankoff announce the acquisition at the Code Conference in California.)

What is Re/code?

Re/code is probably the most respected and influential tech news media brand among business and C-suite audiences. It launched about 16 months ago and has grown steadily. Unlike The Verge, which is going after a broad and large consumer audience by being the most widely respected technology lifestyle media brand, Re/code's strength is with technology and business elites and leaders.

In addition to its digital presence, Re/code also runs the most successful and prestigious conference business in tech, featuring its flagship Code Conference, which began tonight. Re/code is led by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, who started the successful AllThingsD business and have had long and impressive careers as journalists. They have a team of about 45 people who will shortly be Vox Media employees.

Why are we doing this?

1) Vox Media is built around empowering the most talented digital voices — from our beginnings as a network of sports bloggers in SB Nation through our launch of The Verge and Polygon, acquisition of Curbed LLC, and launch of Vox.com, we've been all about building media brands through the combination of media hackers, platform and culture. The addition of Kara, Walt, and the rest of the Re/code team is a natural progression of our focus.

2) We are strengthening our leadership in tech coverage with the addition of Re/code. The Verge is already the preeminent digital tech/lifestyle media brand, with tremendous growth under Nilay's leadership, reaching a consumer audience of over 24.5 million unique visitors in April and generating 40 million video views each month. With the addition of Re/code, we will extend our leadership of comprehensive tech coverage online, with Re/code's unparalleled expertise in tech business news, to complement the broad consumer appeal of The Verge.

3) Conferences: Re/code is the undisputed leader in tech business conferences across substance, access, and quality. Vox Media will leverage Re/code's leadership in this space and explore ways to apply it to our other media brands.

4) Re/code will benefit from joining Vox Media, integrating Vox Media's various capabilities including marketing, communications, audience development, sales, and production. Their clients will become ours and will benefit from Vox Creative's solutions. Re/code will eventually migrate to Chorus and will be another shining example of the power of our platform.

Wait — we already have one of the biggest tech sites. Why do we need another?

If you've read this far, you've gathered that The Verge and Re/code have a very different focus. In fact, per Comscore, there is only a 4 percent audience overlap between the two properties. The Verge is a big, consumer-focused media brand covering all aspects of tech culture, from science to entertainment to transportation and more.

Re/code's focus is on the business of tech from M&A to enterprise, executive movement and corporate strategy. The tech category is big and valuable, with some strong competition. Between The Verge and Re/code we are undisputed leaders, with the momentum to go much further together.

What about reviews? Re/code does product reviews, doesn't it?

We are going to move the amazing review team on Re/code and have them join The Verge. Walt Mossberg, the most feared, followed, and admired product reviewer of the past few decades, will also contribute to The Verge review program. The program will report up through Dieter and Nilay and put The Verge far ahead of all other product review programs.

What's the reporting structure?

Walt and Kara both report to Lock and will be in charge of editorial for Re/code. Lia Kennett, Re/code's current COO, will report to Marty and run the conference business. The review program reports to Dieter and Nilay as exciting additions to The Verge team.

What does this mean for our Vox Media events team?

Not much day to day. We have a great events team led by Jen Leibow. Her group will continue to do what it does, organizing successful events for Vox Media and our advertisers. This is very different work than running the Re/code conference business which is what Lia will do. Over time, as often happens across many groups at Vox Media, we would not be surprised to see some radical collaboration, sharing of learnings from each other, or at the very least clinking glasses with new colleagues who share a deep appreciation for how much work goes into making an "in real life" production look effortless.

What about cultural fit?

I've known Walt and Kara for the better part of two decades now. Their values as humans and professionals align with ours, but we'll all have to make an effort to welcome the Re/code team, make them feel at home, and also learn from them.

Won't this distract our focus?

Well, if you are reading this, you are already distracted, but I believe if we are committed, we can keep it to a minimum. I am asking Marty Moe to help me coordinate the integration process, working with People, Culture, Revenue, Finance, and any other relevant teams. Part of Marty's role is to make sure we don't create distractions. Our big initiatives, like video growth, audience development/data/growth, Unison, Anthem, etc., and our four priorities that we established at the beginning of the year don't change. There will be no changes to our product roadmap or our strategic initiatives.

When is Re/Code moving to Chorus?

Not for a while. No date set and no expectations. Unison, Anthem and other product work remain the priorities for the team. We also recognize that Curbed is first in line!

How much did this deal cost Vox Media?

Not saying, but have faith that we take the company's financial resources seriously and that this is an agreement that works well for both Vox Media and Re/code.

Whom would I like to thank?

I'm glad I asked. A lot of people had to work long hours, especially over the holiday weekend to get this done. Lauren Fisher, Brian Leung, Alexis Juneja, Steve Swad, Marty Moe, Trei Brundrett, Josh Albertson, Mike Burke, Fay Sliger, and Kevin Powers were all part of the core Vox Media team that helped to get this done. Of course, Kara, Walt, Lia, and others on the Re/code team have been great partners in the process. You learn a lot about people through a process like this, and we all got along tremendously well. Now several others will get involved to ensure a smooth transition.

What now?

Tweet it, high-five about it, ask me questions about it ... but then get back to whatever you were doing.

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