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How Apple obsessive John Gruber built Daring Fireball, the world’s most powerful one-man media company

Since 2002, Gruber has owned a chunk of the conversation about Apple — and he does it all solo.

Amelia Krales for Recode

More than a decade ago, as Apple was starting to transition from Microsoft’s also-ran PC rival to a globally dominant consumer hardware company, John Gruber was making a big leap of his own. After spending years making websites for other people, Gruber decided to go into business for himself — writing stories about Apple that he wanted to read.

"My audience is just me," Gruber said of his Daring Fireball site, on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. "It’s somebody out there who’s exactly like me and isn’t writing Daring Fireball."

Fast-forward, Gruber is still running the same industry-leading site, and still has zero employees working under him, though he does use a contractor to edit his "weekly-ish" podcast.

"There are times where — I don’t feel lonely, but I get jealous of the camaraderie of a small team, to have colleagues who you actually like," he said. "But I think ultimately, my personality is such that I’m particularly suited to working in the ‘monastic style.’"

On the new Recode Media, Gruber also discussed why he doesn’t want to work for a big media company; why he looks down on Apple rumor sites and other media companies that chase pageviews; and how podcasting has come to represent about half of Daring Fireball’s revenue. He also denied the claim that Apple’s top brass has much of a say in what he writes.

"Almost nothing came through Apple’s official channels, especially in the older days," Gruber said. "I can’t remember where I got [Steve Jobs’s critique of Adobe Flash] from, but it definitely wasn’t Steve Jobs."

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