Recode Tech and Media Website to Be Folded Into Vox.com



Recode, a technology website that was among the first in a wave of journalist-led media startups, is being folded into sister site Vox.com, its parent company said Thursday.

Vox Media publisher Melissa Bell said in a memo that Recode would relaunch as a section of Vox.com starting next year. Recode will continue to exist as a brand and business, and Recode’s staff will report to Vox Editor in Chief Lauren Williams, Ms. Bell said.

“The aim of this relaunch is to create a bigger, bolder Recode, using Vox’s platform, editorial support, and distribution power to amplify Recode’s work,” Ms. Bell said.

Vox Media isn’t planning any staff cuts as a result of the combination, and Recode’s archives will remain online at Recode.net, a Vox Media spokeswoman said.

Recode Editor in Chief Dan Frommer is leaving the company, Ms. Bell said in the memo. Jason Del Rey, a senior editor, will succeed him in the interim. Recode co-founder Kara Swisher and executive editor Peter Kafka will stay on as executive producers of Recode’s Code Conference.

The decision to fold Recode into Vox comes more than three years after Vox Media announced the acquisition of the media and technology site in an all-stock deal whose financial terms weren’t disclosed. Jim Bankoff, Vox Media’s chief executive, said at the time that Recode’s conference business was an attractive asset for the company.

Ms. Swisher, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, co-founded Recode with her then-colleague, the technology journalist Walt Mossberg, after the pair parted ways with Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones in 2013. They were among a wave of high-profile journalists who left their employers to found their own media companies around that time. Jessica Lessin, also a former Wall Street Journal reporter, left to found The Information, a news and technology site, in 2013. Alex Blumberg, a former This American Life producer, co-founded Gimlet Media, a podcasting company, in 2014. Ezra Klein left the Washington Post in 2014 to start Vox.com with Ms. Bell and the journalist Matt Yglesias.

Recode’s traffic has declined in recent months, as some of the site’s marquee journalists have left the company for jobs at other news organizations. The site attracted 1.36 million unique visitors in September 2018, a 50% decrease from its audience of 2.77 million unique visitors during the same period the year before, according to comScore. By comparison, the Verge, another Vox-owned tech website, drew 25.9 million unique visitors in September.

Mr. Mossberg retired last year, and employees such as Edmund Lee, Tony Romm and Johana Bhuiyan have all left Recode in the past year. Ms. Swisher has begun writing for the New York Times, which she joined as an opinion contributor in July.

The website’s traffic has declined, but the audience for Recode’s podcasts, newsletters and conferences has increased over the last year, the Vox Media spokeswoman said.

In the past year, Vox Media has expanded upon Recode’s conference business, holding events such as “The Deep End” at the annual SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. The company also has expanded its audio business, launching a new podcast, “Pivot,” co-hosted by Ms. Swisher.

Recode parent Vox Media is a closely held media company that publishes websites including Vox, Eater, The Verge, SB Nation and Polygon. In 2015, Vox Media closed a $200 million funding round led by Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal that valued the company at about $1 billion.

In September The Wall Street Journal reported that Vox Media was on pace to miss its 2018 revenue target of about $200 million. Last week, the company appointed Ryan Pauley as its chief revenue officer; Lindsay Nelson, who was appointed chief commercial officer earlier this year, left the company to become president of TripAdvisor Inc.’s Core Experience business unit.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com



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