Programming note from Melissa Bell: When we first started Vox, I loved to write about building this company. But as our team has grown, and our work did too, those public notes fell by the wayside. It’s been almost a year since we last added to “How we make Vox.” I’d like to change that, starting now. I want us to re-engage in a conversation with you, our readers, about how we’re doing, and what we should be doing next. You helped us build this brand into something bigger and better than I ever imagined. And I’m so excited for the next stage of growth.
To start, here’s a note we sent to the Vox.com team this morning. It’s celebratory, because we’re excited about the work we’ve done, and the work we’ll get to do with Andrew Golis, but we’ll hopefully write about both the good and the difficult lessons in the future. If there’s a topic you’d like to hear about from us, feel free to send me an idea at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
We have some exciting news to announce: Andrew Golis is joining Vox as its first General Manager.
tl;dr Vox’s success has generated a huge volume of incoming opportunities and Andrew is going to work at the intersection of product, editorial, and revenue to make sure we make the most of the opportunities we have, and are constantly coming up with new places to take our publication, and our business!
Now, the longer version:
We are writing this after an incredible week for Vox.
For two days, in downtown DC, we held our first live event: Vox Conversations. It was a new style of policy-focused talks: informal, improvisational and created by the participants themselves. It was amazing, and honestly a bit emotional, to see the incredibly smart, curious, interesting, amazing people who make up our audience made flesh.
Above all, there was a real, tangible sense of the community we have had the honor of developing at Vox. People who love our work traveled from across the country to participate in two days of conversations based on nothing more than our promise it would be interesting. It was an amazing expression of faith in the brand we’ve built, and it was humbling to see what a brilliant community we have the good fortune to be part of.
And that community is not just the 150 people who gathered in DC last week.
Vox saw its biggest month ever in July, with 23 million monthly uniques according to Comscore. That put our digital audience ahead of the Atlantic, Politico, and Slate — a truly amazing weight class to be in after only two-and-a-half years. But that only measures a small fraction of our total audience.
More than 25 million people watched our videos on YouTube last month, and 63 million watched us on Facebook. Our YouTube page passed a million subscribers a month ago, and growth has only accelerated since. The quality of those videos is leading to other opportunities —we’re in discussions for television deals based on our award-winning digital work. We helped set a new style of Snapchat storytelling on our Discover channel, and we’re about to launch our pop-up channel this month. Vox Sentences now lands in over 100,000 inboxes every evening. Our two podcasts have grown loyal audiences, including Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, who just told New York Magazine that he listens to, likes, and learns from both of them.
Behind all this is the simplest, hardest fact: we put out a consistently great product every day for our readers, and it’s getting better all the time. During another week of difficult news, Jenée Desmond-Harris wrote a devastatingly important piece about Black Lives Matter; Zack Beauchamp kicked off the week with a skillfully reported and important piece on the disturbing trends of white nationalism sweeping across Europe and America; Brian Resnick rewrote our understanding of the relationships humans beings had with neanderthals; Javier Zarracina and Zachary Crockett used humor and logic to correct Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittle graphic; and our culture and data teams ranked every single new television show of the fall and built an app to help you decide which one to watch.
This could go on and on, but it’s a reflection of the general excellence of the publication we’re putting out – one recognized by the Online News Association, which nominated us for an general excellence award in a class of competitors such as the New York Times (which has nearly 20 times the size of our staff!).
We’re also growing our business — and, crucially, new lines for our business – with strong conference ticket sales and the first sales of branded content cardstacks, which we recently launched into market.
And still, there’s so much yet to do!
New partners approach us every day to collaborate. Technology continues to change and create new opportunities to tell stories and reach audiences in new ways. And Vox Media as a whole continues to expand its capacity to develop new products and improve on the ones we have.
While the opportunities have expanded, we made three moves over a year that drained senior leadership on Vox.com.
First, Matt stepped back to focus on writing full-time. While he is and always will be an important voice in our direction (particularly if we plan our meetings in the park with José), Matt rightly saw that his greatest impact, and his own happiness would be found as a senior correspondent for our site. We write all this out because it is important we continue to cultivate a culture that celebrates makers as much (if not more!) than managers.
Meanwhile, Melissa and Kyle Keller took the opposite path, expanding into larger company roles to help Vox Media through its incredible period of growth over the last year and a half. While their work across the company has been important and necessary, it has meant that Vox has lost their dedicated focus.
For over a year, we’ve been looking for someone to join Allison Rockey, Lauren Williams, and Ezra to help ease some of the pressure of those changes. At the core of our search was finding someone we believed truly understood our weird, wonderful editorial sensibility, and could thus help push us forward into more spaces and mediums while making certain we remained undeniably ourselves. We’ve found that person in Andrew.
Andrew’s been a media executive at places like Talking Point Memo, The Atlantic and FRONTLINE, where he’s worked for a decade at the intersection of journalism and business. But it was his work on This, a social media site where members could share just one link a day, that blew us away. In that project, Andrew attempted to solve some of the same questions we ask ourselves at Vox every day: How do we make sure what’s important isn’t overwhelmed by what’s new?
We’re excited to keep exploring the answers to those questions with Andrew’s help.
Andrew will report to Melissa, and will be responsible for expanding Vox’s editorial impact and business through new partnerships and experiences, and he'll also work in close collaboration with Vox Media’s revenue, marketing and product teams. Andrew is the husband of Guardian writer (and The Ezra Klein Show podcast guest!) Jessica Valenti, and they live with their daughter and dog in Brooklyn. He’ll be working out of the New York office, but he will be spending most of October in DC. His first mission is to spend the month deeply researching Vox and getting to know, from the inside, what we do and how we do it from the people who do it, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from him soon.
But above all, everything here is what you’ve built, and build anew every single day. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Ezra, Melissa, & Matt