It was just announced that Re/Code was sold to Vox Communications. Generally this is not something I’d write about but the possible reasons for the sale may be enlightening for the reader base of GBD.
Re/Code (http://recode.net) is a pretty standard tech webzine that in their words:
Re/code is an independent tech news, reviews and analysis site, from the most informed and respected journalists in technology and media. Because everything in tech and media is constantly being rethought, refreshed, and renewed, Re/code’s aim is to reimagine tech journalism.
Led by Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and the rest of the team who formerly built the trusted AllThingsD site and the legendary D: All Things Digital conferences, Re/code launched the site and inaugural Code Conference in 2014.
Within a year of launching, Re/code received the Excellence in Online Journalism Award from the U.S. National Press Foundation, a nonprofit journalism organization.
Re/code is owned by the new, independent media company, Revere Digital LLC. The minority investors and strategic partners in Revere are NBCUniversal News Group and Terry Semel’s Windsor Media.
What’s surprising about the sale is that Kara and Moss came from the Wall Street Journal and when Re/Code was launched it seemed the main reason was that they wanted to have more freedom in how they covered the technology scene. It’s odd that a year and a half later they would then sell the new company so that they go back to having a boss in one form or another.
The spin says that the purchase by Vox will give Re/Code more resources, and that Vox will not compromise the integrity of Re/Code’s reporting. The issue with this line of argument is that it seems that every time a media company is bought that the parent company changes the editorial bias of the bought company. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the thought that Vox will leave Re/Code as is just seems very disingenuous. They may not change it for a month, or two, or six, but all businesses have to update themselves regularly and it seems only reasonable that when decisions have to be made that Vox will put at least a few ounces of weight on the scale to skew decisions.
The more reasonable argument being tossed about is that running a web publishing business was more of a pain in the butt than Kara and Moss had planned for. That the idea of running a company was more enticing than actually running a company.
Apparently after a year and half Recode.net only gets around 1.5 million unique visitors per month. This unto itself is something to be proud of, but with a staff of 44 it’s apparently not enough to pay the bills. The scuttlebutt is that they want to go back to writing which they have a passion for and leave behind the slog of the business of running a media company.
This is an important lesson for people thinking about launching their own startup or tech company. Running a tech venture is far different than being a tech professional. I know countless people that were successful entrepreneurs that sold out and became executives at the competition simply because they really hated dealing with HR problems.
Running a business isn’t for everyone even if you technically have the ability to do it.
For more on the Re/Code sale:
Frankly I find Re/Code to be just another rather poorly done tech webzine. There is nothing about Re/Code that is very interesting and I generally only check it once a week when I remember that it exists.