A minor ripple in the world of internet publishing hit people's inboxes Wednesday afternoon: Awl co-founder and publisher David Cho announced he's leaving to join ESPN's new sports site Grantland, edited by Bill Simmons.
He talked to Ad Age about the move.
Ad Age : Why are you going to Grantland?
David Cho: I've always been a huge fan of Bill's, and this is a unique opportunity, having the support of ESPN and Bill at the forefront. Grantland can hopefully change the way people monetize content and value content.
Ad Age : You could argue that 's what you've done at the Awl.
Mr. Cho: The Awl and Grantland are two different sides of the spectrum. Grantland is in the pole position with all its backing. The Awl showed how you can monetize content in a way that doesn't require lots of money. I remember in December of '09 someone asked me what I wanted to do with the Awl, and I said, "I want to take it to a place where it can make a lot of money and then I'll go work for Bill Simmons.
Ad Age : Now that the Awl is making lots of money -- [with revenue in the "low millions" by the end of the year] -- you reached out to Bill?
Mr. Cho: No, I wasn't out looking for this job. He got in contact with me.
Ad Age : So what will you be doing there?
Mr. Cho: My starting-off title is director of business development.
Ad Age : What does that mean?
Mr. Cho: It means, I'll be working on all the facets of the business, whether it's making money, whether it's the product itself, as well as working with ESPN to build out Grantland.
Ad Age : In your farewell email, you indicated you're not really leaving the Awl. How?
Mr. Cho:: The Awl is like my kid. I would never leave it really. I can't say what my role will be other than I'll be advising on a high level. [Co-founders] Alex [Balk] and Choire [Sicha] are very close friends of mine.
Ad Age : So who's going to replace you at the Awl?
Mr. Cho: The person they're bringing in, I'm a huge fan of .
Ad Age : Cool. Who is it?
David Cho: Well, let's let them settle first. I want Choire to handle that situation. I'm assuming next week-ish you'll know.
Ad Age : So you'll be moving to L.A.
Mr. Cho: Sucks.
Ad Age : Why?
Mr. Cho: It's not that I don't like L.A., I love New York. It's the best city in the world. But I am excited about getting a washer-dryer in my apartment.
Ad Age : And you'll have to get a car.
Mr. Cho: I'll get a Prius or something. If I'm going to be in L.A., I'm going to be very, very, very, very L.A.
Mr. Cho: Coming soon.
Ad Age : What is it?
Mr. Cho: It's close enough where I can't say yet. But we're always looking at different buckets, and we're always looking to work with brands on meaningful content and not just banners. You can't value all content equally. Like, just because someone grabs a link from somewhere doesn't mean it has the same value as original content you create. Original content is something.
Ad Age : Despite the opportunity at Grantland, it must still have been a difficult decision to leave the Awl.
Mr. Cho: Alex and Choire know me really well, and both of them are such great humans and co-workers.
Ad Age : So, when do you start?
Mr. Cho: I leave on Sunday, and I start on the 5th. Time to grow up, I mean in terms of moving. And I can't wear sneakers to every meeting.
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