Viral-Traffic Whisperer Neetzan Zimmerman Leaving Gawker

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Zimmerman, probably going viral.

Gawker's blogging savant and page-view savior Neetzan Zimmerman is leaving the site. "His next move is to a start-up that is not among our competitors in the news business," editor John Cook announced in a memo to staff today. "Neetzan has been tireless, obsessive, and successful beyond measure in his search for stories that people will share and click on and read and rack up precious, life-giving uniques." For that, Zimmerman has been called possibly "the most popular blogger working on the Web today."

Zimmerman's mandate at Gawker has been to blanket the world with stories that will be shared on Facebook — from cat-video candy to weird-crime snuff — thus taking the pressure to perform statistically, day in and day out, off of the site's other writers while they chase more in-depth stories. It's worked magically: Zimmerman often generates more traffic than his co-workers combined:

"I want to take online culture, which is a jungle, and make it accessible to people coming in from outside,” Zimmerman, previously the founder of the one-man viral treasure chest the Daily What, told Daily Intel when he started at Gawker. “I’m ready to go full capacity and give them a 30-post day, even after everybody's gone home," he said. "The Internet doesn't go to sleep."

"Anyway, we're fucked, start traffic-whoring," wrote Cook. "BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS: Neetzan will be a loss, but one of the reasons, beyond his talent, that he's been the guy pulling in the big numbers here is that he has been the guy tasked with pulling in the big numbers here. That strategy — traffic scapegoating — won't change. We'll find others to harness the power of Facebook algorithms and make sure we're hitting the traffic sweetspots that we need to."

Here's full memo is below:

From: John Cook
To: Gawker Writers
Date: Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:21:26 PM
Subject: Nothing Gold Can Stay

WELP. Neetzan Zimmerman, the Editor of the Internet, is leaving Gawker. I'll leave it to him to share the details of what he's doing next. But I will say it's no surprise that, given the nearly two years he's had here, Neetzan has been approached by all manner of news and entertainment sites, and happily for us, he's spurned them all. His next move is to a start-up that is not among our competitors in the news business.

Neetzan has been tireless, obsessive, and successful beyond measure in his search for stories that people will share and click on and read and rack up precious, life-giving uniques. He has produced some amazing stories of his own, and more importantly made it possible for the rest of you to produce the excellent work you've done. And most importantly, he's done it, in his way, in a manner that aligns with this site's values. Neetzan is a true believer in Gawker's editorial mission, and I know that he's been proud to play a role in subsidizing our ability to do the big stories we've accomplished during his time here.

Anyway, we're fucked, start traffic-whoring. BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS: Neetzan will be a loss, but one of the reasons, beyond his talent, that he's been the guy pulling in the big numbers here is that he has been the guy tasked with pulling in the big numbers here. That strategy — traffic scapegoating — won't change. We'll find others to harness the power of Facebook algorithms and make sure we're hitting the traffic sweetspots that we need to.

Neetzan is around for another two weeks. Details on goodbyes, etc. to come.
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John Cook