Welcome to another post in our series that features exciting WordPress publishers. We're not always looking for household brand names. We're also searching for publishers who are building new, brave and innovative platforms.
The old Deadspin site was a breath of fresh air in the sports publishing world, which is often very dry and narrowly-focused. The charm of the site was that is used sports as the starting point to discuss everything from politics to the William-Sonoma catalog.
At the end of 2019, the entire Deadspin staff quit because of problems caused by the site's new private equity owners. You can read that story here.
Around 11 months later, the Deadspin staff are back with a new site: Defector.com. Please note: the site does feature plenty of cursing.
This new site is owned by 19 staff members who each own around 5% of the company.
Any of the company's leaders can be voted out by 2/3 vote of the staff. That same super-majority can take almost any major decision for the company:
The first layer will be the management board, which includes the EIC, the VP of revenue and operations, and one editor and one staff writer from editorial. These are the people who will have ultimate oversight of the company. But certain decisions by the board, like sales of assets, taking on significant debt, or shutting down the company, will require a supermajority of the staff to be ratified. The entire staff also has the ability to terminate executives, including the EIC, if a supermajority votes for it.
The new Defector.com uses the Gutenberg block editor and is hosted on WordPress VIP.
Defector.com is supported by advertising and subscriptions.
You'll see ads such as “Today's stories presented by Warby Parker”.
However, the key source of financing is the site's readers. You can buy subscriptions, which cost between $80 and $1,000 a year. These subscriptions are run through TryPico.com.
What did you get at the highest level? I'm glad you asked! This is the kind of personalized community-building that sites like this will need to suceed.
So far things are going great. Even at this early stage, they have over 30,000 paying subscribers. Even at the cheapest level of $80 per year, that would produce almost $2.5 million in annual revenue and would be enough to pay a reasonable salary to all 19 founders. And that is close to their goal:
“All we want is a moderately sized publication that can be sustainable and everyone can have a decent salary. That’s it. Let’s write stuff that we think people want to read, and if they do, they’ll pay us for it and we’ll keep doing it.”Editor in Chief, Tom Ley
Congrats to the Defector team who are already well on their way to reaching that goal.