New York Magazine

The Skimm Brains

Seven million people wake up to their newsletter, and their voice, every morning.
Co-founders Carly Zakin …

IN EARLY SEPTEMBER, THE WHOLE STAFF of the Skimm, a current-events newsletter aimed at millennial women, gathered on gray couches for an all-hands meeting. Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, the Skimm’s CEOs and founders, were dressed in the TV-ready sheaths they’d put on for a Today show appearance that morning to promote their No Excuses votermobilization campaign—rings and bracelets and greenroom curls all aglint. “Eye of the Tiger” was playing on the company sound system. “We accidentally wore red and blue to show our bipartisanship,” joked Zakin, clutching a sheet of talking points. In the back, a staffer lifted up an iPhone to take a photo as if the bosses were celebrities. Both are 32. Weisberg, who was in GOP-outreach crimson paired with snakeskin heels, has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a big, orthodonist-advertising smile. Zakin, wearing Democratic navy blue, with black grommets around a slit, has brown hair and brown eyes and a competing bright-white grin.

The all-hands meeting proceeded like a Harvard Business Review case study in managing millennials. Zakin and Weisberg traded turns with sororal ease (pledge leaders, not sisters), announcing new hires—the group spontaneously cheered for the exciting news that they would soon be getting their first data engineer—and “very lovely Skimmversaries” for people who were celebrating a year, or two or three, of working at the company. Managers (from the finance group, which they called Team Sunshine, and Cash Money, the ad-sales team) then fulsomely praised their employees for everyone to hear: “Alex is a true unicorn and has built up our RP and advertiser practice from the ground up as largely a one-woman show. I just know how hard you work, how much you care about Cash Money and also the brand!” Zakin and Weisberg led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to a Rachel, popped a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the No Excuses launch, and introduced, to cheers, K.J., the employee leading the campaign. There was a PowerPoint, full of stats on how few female millennials actually vote and concluding with a promotional video featuring a whiplash-inducing assemblage of Tyra Banks, Marco Rubio, Issa Rae, Madeleine Albright, Ted Cruz, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Newt Gingrich, seated happily in the Skimm’s offices.

By any measure, the Skimm, founded in 2012, is an insane success. The newsletter is a Frankensteining of clear, sober-minded news aggregation with a tone imitating the way young women supposedly talk to one another. It has grown by more than

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