Featured WordPress Publisher: Defector

Defector Logo

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.

This week's WordPress site is a new site with a long history. Defector.com is a sports and media blog that is owned and operated by the former staff of Deadspin.com.

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.

Defector
Defector

Ownership

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.


WordPress

The site uses WordPress and was built by Alley who are behind some of the biggest WordPress publishing projects including People.com and a network of NBC sites such as NBCNewYork.com.

The new Defector.com uses the Gutenberg block editor and is hosted on WordPress VIP.


Finances

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.

1000 Contribution
1000 Contribution

Early Success

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.


More WordPress sites like this

The Defector is an excellent example of how companies can use WordPress to launch quickly, affordably, and own their future.

If you're interested in innovative, mission-driven sites using WordPress, check out all our overviews:


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