What the Gawker Shakeup Says About Nick Denton

Taking stock after the editor-in-chief's ouster

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In a surprise move, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton ousted his Web site's editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder, who presided over major growth in the site's traffic numbers. He will be replaced by Remy Stern, the publisher of Cityfile, which Gawker just acquired. As Denton expands his formidable media portfolio, a number of commentators are taking stock of his ambitious rise. What do his recent moves say how about him?

  • He's "Mercurial"  In a memo to the Gawker staff, editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder says he was "canned" by Denton for reasons he's "not too clear on." He describes the decision as coming out of nowhere, despite the fact that he doubled Gawker's Web audience during his tenure. "It shouldn't have come as much a surprise," writes Snyder. "Our mercurial owner" is moving Gawker in a different direction.
  • He's Power Hungry  Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider points to Denton's words in a recent internal memo: "If online media is consolidating, we'd rather be a consolidator than consolidatee. And revenue growth of 22% in 2009 provides the resources ... To achieve critical mass in entertainment and tech, we have indeed looked at a few opportunities in the last few months." Carlson speculates that Denton could swallow up Apple "fanboy sites" Cult of the Mac or 9to5Mac, though Denton dismissed the idea.
  • He'll Turn on a Dime to Please Advertisers  Shira Ovide at The Wall Street Journal writes: "Denton isn’t afraid to change things up at Gawker Media. A year ago, he folded Hollywood blog Defamer into Gawker.com, following a similar step for Valleywag, which once was a standalone Web site. He also sold Consumerist to the publisher of Consumer Reports. Denton has said previously that he wanted to focus Gawker Media on its biggest brands to better attract advertisers."
  • He's Doubling Down on Gossip, writes the dscriber staff. They cite Cityfile's exclusive focus on New York City bigwigs. "The snarkier-than-snarky website, Gawker, looks set to reaffirm its gossipy roots by delving even deeper into the lives of the 'most notable and influential individuals' in New York -- the powerbrokers, tastemakers, media mavens."
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