In honor of our co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made ($13), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (to parallel the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of inspirational female leaders who are at the top of their fields. We last spoke with interior design maven Kelly Wearstler. This week, another pioneer is divulging her career prowess—meet theSkimm's co-founders, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin.
In the wake of the first wave of digital leaders puttering out in the e-newsletter game (RIP, DailyCandy) and magazines from Sassy to Domino to Jane shuttering, the 2012 launch of theSkimm, a millennial-targeted e-newsletter about politics, was a revelation. The aughts were a fraught time for publishers trying to tap into the Gen Y mind-set on their turf—the internet. But that’s where Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin thrived. “We think of theSkimm as old meets new,” they told The Huffington Post. “Everyone told us morning news was dead, we disagreed. Everyone said email was dead; we disagreed. Obviously these traditional places have to adapt to get younger readers. For us, the way we differentiate ourselves is that we knew we couldn’t be everything to everyone. We were very clear—we are the demographic.”
The millennial generation was ready and waiting for a news publication to meet them where they were: in bed at 7 a.m., scrolling on their smartphones. So the two 20-something women left their producer jobs at NBC News to revamp the platform every marketer said was dying, brandishing the e-newsletter as their coat of arms. Soon, millennials everywhere were reading up on the five biggest headlines of the week every morning, including terminology breakdowns and background information in case they weren’t completely caught up on the latest update in Benghazi (no judgment). During election season, the newsletter interviewed potential candidates, asking them questions like “What are you watching on Netflix right now?” and “Who should we call for a reference?” along with seeking their stances on gay marriage, student loans, and the refugee crises. But for this aging millennial, my favorite recurring section of the newsletter, “Thing to Know,” keeps me hip to the million new acronyms cropping up and Prince William’s latest whims.
It’s no surprise that in a matter of three short years, after amassing 1.5 million subscribers and launching successful sponsored campaigns with the likes of Chase, Netflix, and Chevy, theSkimm has announced its latest venture: an app called Skimm Ahead. The $3 app merges with your phone’s iCal to keep you informed of what’s to come, while the e-newsletter continues to keep you abreast of what just happened. “Never again will you wonder when Beyoncé tickets go on sale, what time the State of the Union is on, or when your favorite show is coming back on Netflix,” Weisberg an Zakin told MyDomaine.
In honor of theSkimm’s motto, and to avoid making this story TLDR, we’ll let the brilliant, always-ahead founders do the talking.
Inspired? Who would you like us to feature next?