Kara Swisher (Executive Editor, Re/Code)
9.5 – The Visionaries (6.10.16)
Kara Anne Swisher (born December 11, 1962) is an American progressive technology business journalist and co-founder of Recode. She became a contributing writer to The New York Times Opinion Section in 2018. Previously she wrote for The Wall Street Journal, serving as co-executive editor of All Things Digital.
Swisher went to Princeton Day School from 1976 to 1980. She graduated from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a B.S. degree in 1984. She wrote for The Hoya, Georgetown’s school newspaper, but later left The Hoya and wrote for The Georgetown Voice, the university’s news magazine. In 1985, she earned an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.
Swisher worked at an alternative newspaper in Washington, D.C., and The Washington Post, where she started as an intern and was later hired full-time.
Wall Street Journal
Swisher joined The Wall Street Journal in 1997, working from its bureau in San Francisco. She created and wrote Boom Town, a column devoted to the companies, personalities and culture of Silicon Valley which appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s Marketplace section and online. During that period, she was cited as the most influential reporter covering the Internet by the Industry Standard magazine.
In 2003 with her colleague Walt Mossberg she launched the All Things Digital conference and later expanded it into a daily blog site called AllThingsD.com. The conference featured interviews by Swisher and Mossberg of top technology executives, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Larry Ellison, all of whom appeared on stage without prepared remarks or slides.
She is the author of aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads and Made Millions in the War for the Web, published by Times Business Print Books in July 1998. The sequel, There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future, was published in the fall of 2003 by Crown Business Print Books.
On January 1, 2014, Swisher and Mossberg struck out on their own with the Recode website, based in San Francisco, California. In the spring of 2014 they held the inaugural Code Conference near Los Angeles. Vox Media acquired the website in May 2015. A month later in June 2015, they launched Recode Decode, a weekly podcast in which Swisher interviews prominent figures in the technology space with Stewart Butterfield featured as the first guest.
New York Times
Swisher became a contributing writer to The New York Times Opinion Section in August 2018, focusing on tech. She has written about Elon Musk, Kevin Systrom’s departure from Instagram, Google and censorship and an internet Bill of Rights. She also answers questions weekly during live videos on Twitter.
Other projects and accolades
Swisher has also served as a judge for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYC BigApps competition in NYC.
Newsweek has said “many regard [Swisher] as Silicon Valley’s premier journalist”. In a profile headlined “Kara Swisher is Silicon Valley’s Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist. How Does That Work?”, New York Magazine said Swisher is one of the “major power brokers of tech reporting” whose “combination of access and toughness has made [her] a preeminent arbiter of status in a Silicon Valley”.
Swisher is considered a tough interview by many. She told Rolling Stone writer Claire Hoffman, “A lot of these people I cover are babies”, Swisher says. “I always call them papier-mâché – they just wilt.”
In 2016, Swisher announced she planned to run for mayor of San Francisco in 2023.
In January 2019, Swisher told people who disapproved of a Gillette advertisement, following the January 2019 Lincoln Memorial confrontation “And to all you aggrieved folks who thought this Gillette ad was too much bad-men-shaming, after we just saw it come to life with those awful kids and their fetid smirking harassing that elderly man on the Mall: Go fuck yourselves.” Swisher would later have to walk this comment back.