Media

Wired switches leadership at Wired.com, underscoring the rise of digital media

Wired magazine has replaced its longtime website editor-in-chief, Evan Hansen, with a Wired magazine veteran, Mark McClusky.

The change is a signal of how rapidly the magazine is shifting to an integrated print and digital model. Ironically for such a forward-facing publication, Wired is a relative latecomer to this approach.

The move happened today, announced via roughly simultaneous tweets from Hansen and McClusky.

Hansen followed up with a tweet saying he thought McClusky was a great choice and wishing the best to Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich: “@markmcc great call to lead http://wired.com to new heights @wired @sdadich – best.”

Both Hansen and McClusky are my friends, so I’m going out on a limb a bit in reporting on the story. I worked at Wired.com from 2007 to 2011, where Hansen was my boss, and I worked alongside McClusky years ago at a startup magazine called Mobile (formerly Mobile PC).

The move signals that this is the latest step in Wired owner Condé Nast’s consolidation of the brand. Wired long suffered from its split into two entities, print and digital. When Conde Nast acquired the magazine from its founders, Louis and Jane Rossetto, in the late 1990s, it left the website on the table. Wired.com eventually went to Lycos and then, after a change of ownership or two, wound up being sold to Condé Nast in 2006 for a rumored $10 million to $20 million. However, Wired.com remained in a separate division of Conde Nast for years. The parent company remained focused on print magazines until quite recently, and it seemed content to let its websites languish with minimal budgets and minimal oversight.

In recent years, Condé Nast has gradually brought the two sides of the business together, at Wired and at other magazines it publishes.

Wired.com brought in almost as much revenue as Wired magazine in Q4 2012, so Condé Nast execs probably figured it was too important to leave under separate leadership any longer.

According to a WWD report, Dadich began looking for a replacement for Hansen within weeks of his own appointment as EIC in November, but it took awhile to execute because Hansen reported directly to Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg.

Hansen led Wired.com for eight years, steering it safely through some of the site’s highest and lowest points.

“When the journalistic stakes were highest, @evanatwired made the right call every single time. He’ll be missed,” Wired reporter and Danger Room cofounder Noah Schachtman said on Twitter.

“End of an era and a good, long run. Saved #wired.com and totally transformed it. Good job. F**cking good job!” tweeted Leander Kahney, through his Cult of Mac twitter handle.

However, Hansen wasn’t well liked within Condé Nast. By contrast, Dadich, a designer who has been described as “a cross between Jesus and Pelé,” made a strong reputation at Condé by helping lead the creation of Wired’s first iPad app. He then cemented that reputation by going to New York and becoming the company’s iPad chief, helping all of Condé’s magazines with their tablet editions.

Sources I talked to were optimistic about the change and didn’t expect any other immediate shuffling of the staff.

Top image: Wired.com’s 2012 anti-SOPA protest.

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