Have you heard of this wry upstart blog network, Gawker Media? It seems they have been doing gangbusters of late.
Ok, so Gawker is not exactly a startup anymore as it has made the jump to become a legitimately successful online business. Other blog networks wish they had the reach and impact of Gawker’s stable of brands, which include Gawker, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezebel and Kotaku, among others.
In a memo to employees obtained by Business Insider’s Joe Pompeo, Gawker founder Nick Denton (pictured, with pancakes on his head) touts the company’s success in June. Denton recently started rewarding writers for bringing in new visitors, rather than “pandering to our regulars.”
Our audience, drained by the sale of sites like Consumerist and the merger of others, was largely flat during 2009. There’s more competition for the favor of Google, which has long been the primary source of new readers. Several of our sites are mature; and we’ve wondered on occasion whether we’re reaching the natural limit of their reach.
And we all know unique visitors are much harder to move than pageviews. There are no easy tricks; just great stories that other publishers have to link to; and that readers have to click.
Denton went on to cite a few of the most popular stories from each of the Gawker sites, and why they succeeded.
Darbyshire has flown mostly under the radar at Gawker, dealing with cease-and-desist complaints (nearly 600 since 2007) as well as other operational details of the company. Earlier this year, when Gizmodo obtained a prototype iPhone 4, she became involved in the ensuing legal dispute, a dispute which is ongoing.
The Observer goes into her background, including her parents, who were “a spy and an intelligence officer from MI6.” Darbyshire studied to become a scientist at Cambridge, but went on to become a Barrister (attorney). She ended up moving out to California to serve a consultant to tech companies. She knew Denton from when she was at Cambridge, and he introduced her to many people out there.
Fast forward a few years, and Denton recruited her to join Gawker Media, which was still an upstart.
One of her greatest assets is her ability to work well with Denton, who is known to be a difficult boss.
“I’ll say something is a risk, and he goes, ‘They’ll never sue,’” she said.
And this is how Ms. Darbyshire can-occasionally-keep Nick Denton in check.
“I don’t care whether or not someone will sue, I care whether or not we’re right, and it’s legally defensible,” she said. “If it is, I don’t care if they sue, we’ll win. Don’t use that line and expect me to buy it.
“He hired me to protect this company in that role,” she continued. “My judgment and opinion is better than his.”