When people leave their jobs, it’s usually because they’re unhappy, overworked, or underpaid. That wasn’t the case for Danielle Weisberg. She loved her job at NBC News, and was doing exactly what she imagined as an aspiring journalist at Tufts. But she had an idea, and a friend willing to take the leap with her. So she quit to start theSkimm.
“We were twenty-five and twenty-six, and we didn’t really have anything in savings,” Weisberg recalled. “So it was a huge risk for us. We didn’t know exactly how it was going to change our lives, but it completely did.” Today, theSkimm—a newsletter curating the important headlines of the day—has three and a half million subscribers, including celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey.
Weisberg started the company in 2012 with Carly Zakin, a coworker and friend whom she originally met during a semester abroad in Rome. Weisberg and Zakin were noticing that their millennial female friends didn’t seem engaged with the news stories they were producing at NBC. They wondered if there was a better way to get information to that audience—people who weren’t home to catch the evening news, or didn’t own TVs at all. That’s when they came up with the concept for theSkimm: a newsletter with all the news you need, broken down in a casual tone you might use over brunch. Something you could, yes, skim every morning. By any measure, the newsletter has been a triumph, but Weisberg refuses to call it a hit. “Every day is about building,” she said. “We definitely don’t consider ourselves a success story yet.” Still, she’ll make some concessions. Getting Oprah as a reader, she admitted, “was huge.”
Beyond such endorsements, she’s excited to continue drawing theSkimm’s audience into politics, culture, and the larger world around them. “The one thing that we’re hugely proud of this past year is our work in getting one hundred thousand-plus people registered to vote,” she said. “Our audience does see us as the trusted voice. That’s something that we find really valuable, so one of our goals for 2017 is trying to help everyone, including those of us in theSkimm HQ, get out of their own personal bubbles and really engage with other people outside of their communities.”