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Kara Swisher continues her reign as a media powerhouse

The celebrated journalist, No. 9 on this year’s Queer 50 list, is a New York Times columnist and the host of two successful podcasts and a buzzy tech conference. She’s also working on a new book.

Kara Swisher continues her reign as a media powerhouse
[Photo: Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Massachusetts Conference for Women 2019]
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There may be no title more befitting of Kara Swisher than “editor at large.” It’s the position the exalted tech journalist currently holds at New York magazine, which produces Pivot, a business podcast Swisher cohosts with sparring partner and NYU professor Scott Galloway. But it’s also a nod to the breadth of Swisher’s editorial prowess, which can’t be contained to any one media property or medium. Since 2018, she has been a weekly columnist for the New York Times—also home to her solo podcast, Sway. She is the face of the annual Code Conference, where she grills Silicon Valley’s power brokers while ensconced in an iconic red chair. And she continues to be a frequent guest on CNBC and indefatigable presence on Twitter, with 1.4 million followers in her thrall.

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“I don’t think when you’re a reporter or journalist you need to stay in any lane,” she told Fast Company last year, when she ranked number eight on the Queer 50 list. “I think all the lanes are mine.”

Swisher, known for being as fearless as she is feared, has chronicled the highs and lows of the tech industry for nearly three decades—first at the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, then at Recode, the tech publication she started in 2014 with longtime collaborator Walt Mossberg (with whom she also launched the precursor to the Code Conference). In the ’90s and aughts era of more fawning tech journalism, when even media cynics seemed optimistic about the promise of the industry, Swisher surveyed tech with a critical eye—and honed the ability to make CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg sweat profusely. “I wasn’t a fanboy—I was a skeptical woman,” she previously told Fast Company. “I think I spent a lot of time shifting people that way.” 

In her capacity as a New York Times columnist, Swisher continues to hold the tech industry’s feet to the fire in editorials about the government wrestling back control from Big Tech, the responsibility of platforms like Twitter in reeling in the former president, and the culture of gender-based discrimination at Pinterest (which included CEO Ben Silbermann’s first public comments on the matter). With her interview podcast Sway, which debuted in September, Swisher has widened the scope of her previous stint as the host of Recode Decode, taking on not just tech bigwigs but a more eclectic mix of business leaders, politicians, and creatives. Her debut episode featured none other than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, followed by twice-weekly interviews with the likes of Fran Lebowitz, Stacey Abrams, Elon Musk, and Anna Wintour (who addressed the widely panned Vogue cover featuring Vice President Kamala Harris).

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Following Pivot‘s success over the last year—the podcast’s audience grew by about 50%—Swisher and Galloway will be expanding their partnership with New York magazine to include live events and video content. And this fall, the Code Conference will return to form as a live, in-person event.  

Swisher has said that she rarely gets tired, which might explain how she juggles her myriad commitments. (“I’m pretty energetic for someone my age,” she once told The Cut, “but I’ve always had a lot of energy, and I think I’ll be that way until I’m dead.”) True to form, Swisher is currently at work on yet another project, in yet another lane: She’s writing a memoir of her “front row seat covering tech,” as part of a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. It’s the first book Swisher has written since 2003, when she published the second volume of her definitive reporting on AOL.

“Why did it take two decades to do another book?” she quipped on Twitter. “Obvi, I finally had enough receipts.”

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About the author

Pavithra Mohan is a staff writer for Fast Company.

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