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Crooked Media’s founders aren’t paying themselves anything

“Pod Save America” co-hosts Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor and Jon Lovett talk with Recode’s Kara Swisher at South by Southwest.

Pod Save America over a picture of George Washington wearing earphones

Pod Save America,” a podcast hosted by four former Obama White House staffers, is podcasting the Trump resistance. Tommy Vietor, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Dan Pfeiffer left Bill Simmons’s media company, The Ringer, and started their own company, Crooked Media, earlier this year.

That was never the original plan, three of the founders said Tuesday during a live interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher at South by Southwest.

“If Hillary had won, we probably would’ve kept doing this as a hobby,” Vietor said. “But when she lost, I think we all had this existential crisis, where it didn’t feel right to wake up every day and obsess about politics and what’s happening in the country, and then go to work doing something else.”

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Kara Swisher live from SXSW with the founders of Crooked Media

In just a few minutes: Kara Swisher will be live from SXSW with the co-founders of Crooked Media and hosts of popular podcasts Pod Save America and Pod Save the World: Jon Favreau, Jon Lovitt and Tommy Vietor.

Posted by Recode on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The hosts said their openly liberal podcast — originally called “Keepin’ It 1600” — couldn’t have lasted forever at The Ringer, which covers everything from sports to tech. And Favreau, who is moving to Los Angeles for Crooked Media, said the group’s ambitions have changed dramatically since November.

“They were paying us enough for what was a part-time hobby,” he said. “We wanted to do a full-time thing. And I said to Bill right after the election, ‘We want to start our own thing because we want to not just be partisan, but also activists, and I don’t think you want all this activism under the banner of The Ringer.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I totally understand.’”

“We want to do stuff with this company that will have a political benefit, that might not have any financial benefit,” Vietor added. “Explaining that to someone if you’re part of a broader organization would be difficult.”

Crooked Media is not raising money from outside investors, the trio noted.

“We’re not going to pay ourselves any money, but we’re going to use the revenue from ads to invest in the business and try to hire a great team and get an office space,” Vietor said.

“I just feel like the podcast is like our ... seed money? I don’t know the venture fund terms,” Lovett added. “I don’t know what a seed round is. I want nothing to do with it.”

He joked that prospective investors are “way, way too eager” about giving them seed money.

“I was like, ‘We don’t need you people. We’re making money hand over fist!’” Lovett said. “People say that making money in the content-media game is hard, and that is just, like, not my experience. It’s super-confusing, ’cause everyone’s like, ‘Oh, how are you going to monetize?’ It’s easy, just start talking, and then money rolls in.”

“So, clearly, we’re not raising money,” Favreau added.

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