Aug 9, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: Kara Swisher steps away from hosting Code Conference

Photo illustration of Kara Swisher.
Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

After 20 years, this year's annual Code Conference from Vox Media will be Kara Swisher's last year hosting and organizing the event, Swisher told Axios.

Why it matters: Swisher, who recently rejoined Vox Media from the New York Times, plans to turn her attention toward new projects that explore topics beyond tech and reach a wider set of people.

  • She'll still appear on stage to conduct select marquee interviews at future Code Conferences.

Catch up quick: When Swisher and veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg launched Code two decades ago, "it was a much smaller community," Swisher said.

  • Today, Code has become one of the most established business-to-business tech conferences in the country, but its audience is exclusive.
  • Only 20% of the 4,000 tech executives that apply to attend are accepted and pay a registration fee of $7,000–$9,500.

Between the lines: Pivot, a multiplatform franchise hosted by Swisher and NYU professor Scott Galloway, will continue to be a bigger part of Swisher's day-to-day focus.

  • Pivot is focused on spotlighting new companies and entrepreneurs across a broader array of topics — including everything from psychedelics to climate change tech.
  • Last year, the company hosted its first-ever Pivot conference in Miami that was attended by both high-level industry executives as well as Galloway and Swisher super-fans.
  • "I didn't have to have all the CEOs of all the big names and stuff like that. I could sprinkle them in and then show you companies you've never seen before," Swisher said.
  • "I can create really interesting experiences that maybe the Code audience, which is more formal, wouldn't like."

The big picture: Swisher's move back to Vox Media comes amid a greater shift in the news industry toward elevating journalists as independent creators.

  • Part of the reason Swisher left the Times is because she didn't feel as though she could be as entrepreneurial.
  • "I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and not have to have a large committee to do it," she said.

What's next: Swisher plans to launch an interview podcast with New York Magazine, a brand owned by Vox Media, this fall. She'll continue expanding the Pivot franchise with Galloway under the Vox Media umbrella.

What to watch: This year, Swisher said Vox Media will move the Pivot conference out of Florida in response to the state's new "Don't say gay" bill.

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