Thanks & reflections from The Boss Emeritus

posted at 10:46 am on February 21, 2010 by Michelle

What a great week it was for Hot Air. And what a great future lies ahead for Allahpundit, Ed Morrissey, and the new Salem team!

My thanks to Salem’s David Evans, Jonathan Garthwaite, Tom Perrault, Bob Mesrop, and especially Rick Killingsworth, for their work on the acquisition, for recognizing the value of our company, for understanding what makes Hot Air tick and click, and for having the vision and skills to take Hot Air to the next level as a conservative multimedia powerhouse with the 2010 and 2012 elections just around the corner.

Thanks to attorney extraordinaire Eric Costello ([email protected]), who represented Hot Air in the acquisition negotiations. Thanks to Hot Air’s current advertising sales management firm, Intermarkets, and past advertising reps, Blogads and Pajamas Media.

Old-timers will remember that we flipped the switch on April 24, 2006 at 4:15am. The folks at The Blog Studio came up with the clean, simple, user-friendly format that you still see today. Our technical crew has been led by WordPress guru Mark Jaquith, who has worked with Ed Burns and Erik Tamplin to keep the site running smoothly. Thanks to all of them for their creative energy and hard work through the years.

Thanks, most of all, to you.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful we are to each and every one of you for your continued readership, comment participation, links, tips, feedback, encouragement, and support over the past four years. You are what keeps Hot Air rising.

Initially, Hot Air featured original daily videos called “Vents” (many of which you can still watch and enjoy on YouTube or track them all down here) while the indefatigable Allahpundit held down the blogging fort. It was a blast to produce the Vents (here’s the highlight reel from year one) — which ranged from original reporting in Baghdad; to pop-culture commentaries, including an exposé of R&B singer Akon that was yanked from YouTube under pressure from Universal Music Group and restored after we successfully challenged the DMCA abuse with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; to some of my favorite shows mocking the Cindy Sheehan Diet Plan, creating a conservative alternative to The View, and smacking back at Keith Olbermann’s smears. We also featured original video from several guest show hosts, special correspondents, and contributors, and we thank them all for their contributions.

But while the original video production side of Hot Air was an immensely fun and creatively satisfying outlet, it was not a viable business model. Video ad revenue did not materialize; viewership numbers didn’t grow. Things might have turned out differently today with the advent of the iPhone/smartphones and increasing numbers of people watching Internet video on their TVs. Perhaps we were just a little too ahead of our time. In any case, it taught me one of the most valuable lessons we learned as a small, independent start-up company:

To survive, we needed to adapt, respond to market forces, and adjust the business focus to meet readers’ revealed preferences.

Like the teleprompter reader-in-chief always says, “Change is never easy.” I made the decision to redirect our resources away from original video reluctantly. But we looked at the metrics, we looked at the bottom line, and we listened to you. You wanted a 24/7, up-to-the-minute, one-stop, all-purpose conservative blog and aggregator. You wanted an Internet water cooler to hang out with your friends — a place where you could find all the political coverage you needed, but also a place where you could get comic relief, humpbot videos, the latest “Duuudes” and “Hmmms” and “Heart-aches,” and off-beat stories of the day.

From the time he burst onto the Internet scene in 2003, Allah has understood the value of creating community. His willingness to absorb the slings and arrows of commenters piqued over his atheism or his Palin coverage or whatever other positions he took that were deemed unorthodox or “candy-ass;” his intensely personal and elegiac memories of how 9/11 changed his life; his resistance to cult politics of any kind; his intellectual honesty; healthy skepticism; and self-deprecating humor combined with the sharpest, fastest, one-man synthesis of breaking news you will find on the Internet– all of these have been hallmarks of his Hot Air blogging from day one. While traffic skyrocketed, Hot Air managed to maintain the vibe and intimacy of a small blog. It’s not just a resource for radio and TV producers looking for show prep material. It’s a cool place to hang out. This is no small feat with more than 22,000 registered commenters of all backgrounds, ideologies, interests, and agendas. And it is inextricably tied to the uniqueness of Allah’s personality and voice on the right side of the blogosphere. Intensely attuned to the reader/participant experience, Allahpundit also came up with the invaluable “Headlines” and “Green Room” features, which expose readers to a wide range of voices and views.

Some have wondered why I hired Allahpundit despite our stark differences on many social and policy issues. Are you kidding me? The phenomenal success of Hot Air speaks for itself. I valued diversity of thought on the site. The traffic and popularity of the site — from 0 to more than 25 million page views a month last fall in the short span of four years, with plaudits too many to track — show that you do, too. More to the point: No one has been more fiercely dedicated to this company than Allahpundit — from conceiving the Hot Air logo/flame that you see every time you come to the site, to hounding our tech team at the first sign of any glitch or hiccup, to combing over traffic and revenue statistics, to posting your “Quotes of the Day” at the end of every night and making sure you have a fresh set of headlines when you wake up first thing every morning.

Which brings me to another invaluable lesson that my experience running Hot Air has imparted:

Loyalty is a precious commodity. So is industry. Like gold, they have many imitators. Never take the real things for granted.

(Resisting Allah-style urge to insert “Stay gold, Ponyboy” clip here.)

On February 25, 2008, we welcomed Ed Morrissey aboard. Like Allah, he is an O.G. of the blogosphere. He founded Captain’s Quarters in 2003. As I wrote two years ago:

Ed has been a friend and kindred spirit since I entered the blogosphere. He brings keen political insights, boundless energy and optimism, and invaluable investigative skills/enterprise reporting to the team. His pioneering citizen journalism helped expose government corruption in Canada and brought down a rotten Canadian Liberal Party administration. He’s been the subject of moonbat cartoonist Ted Rall’s class bigotry and a target of Vanity Fair jerk James Wolcott’s snobbery. Ever the gentleman, Ed joked in response: “Success is when all the right people hate you.”

Hot Air now has two of the hardest working men in the blogosphere on board full-time– and one very lucky boss. As has been the case from launch, we’ll agree on many issues. But not all. We have an eclectic mix of conservative-to-libertarian perspectives, distinctive interests, life experiences, and styles. What unites Allah, Ed, and me: Hot Air’s company goal of informing, entertaining, and keeping you plugged in with piping hot blog commentary, headlines, political analysis, original reporting, video and other multimedia offerings all day, every day.

With his daily web shows, exclusive political scoops and analysis, and constant good cheer, Ed has increased Hot Air’s stature and standing enormously. He has earned the utmost respect of his peers and of the Right’s biggest names. Ed’s energy is on display every week. He covers it all from Obamateurisms of the Day, to film reviews, tax policy speeches, radio broadcasts, and the NFL. I’m ceaselessly amazed by Ed’s ability to squeeze the most out of every day, multi-task like a Swiss Army knife, and take care of and enjoy his wonderful family. When opportunity came Ed’s way, he grabbed it, hit the ground running, and has never let up. I’m forever grateful for his boundless optimism and initiative.

Which brings me to the next lesson that founding and managing Hot Air has reinforced:

Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero. ( “Seize the day, counting as little as possible on tomorrow.”)

Last but not least, as I did on the sixth-month anniversary of Hot Air (far too long ago), I want to say a public thank you to my hubby, Jesse. Behind the scenes, he served as human resources manager, payroll clerk, accountant, tech liaison, and CFO. He kept an even keel through the birth, growing pains, and evolution of the site. He wore the green eyeshades and took care of every last numbing clerical task of running the company so that the editorial staff could work without sweating those details.

Which demonstrates one last lesson of my tenure as Boss:

Every good hot air balloon needs strong anchor ropes. The pilots may get all the glory, but it’s the hidden support that makes all the difference between successful flight and crash-and-burn.

It’s been a great adventure and the adventure continues. Hot Air readers remain in excellent hands with my best blog friends Allah and Ed as co-pilots. The company is now in excellent hands with Salem’s superb New Media team manning the anchor ropes. And I am just a click away.

Exit send-off: Not “Au revoir,” but “Bon voyage, mes amis!”

Related Posts:

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So sorry, I am apparently out of the loop, Camopfor.
Sounds like you and your family are going through Hell.
Godspeed, and all that, and please (sooooo selfish of me!)keep telling folks how the Canadian health care system doesn’t work.
I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.

Chewy the Lab on February 22, 2010 at 2:14 AM

Thanks, Michelle. Mabuhay!

miron on February 22, 2010 at 2:16 AM

So sorry, I am apparently out of the loop, Camopfor.
Sounds like you and your family are going through Hell.
Godspeed, and all that, and please (sooooo selfish of me!)keep telling folks how the Canadian health care system doesn’t work.
I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.

Chewy the Lab on February 22, 2010 at 2:14 AM

Chewy the Lab: Thank-you for your concern,I never thought
before about our healthcare that Obama trium
hs about,but wnen they flew him to Petosky,
my eyes are now,wide-open!!

Again,thanks CtL,well its really late,nite

canopfor on February 22, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Hmmmm…. No word about Bryan Preston.
Perhaps grace requires silence here, but the silence at this significant time rises to a deafening crescendo.
I’ve always felt it a bit patronizing that no satisfactory explanation was given for his disappearance. Most of us are, in fact, grownups.

silverfox on February 22, 2010 at 3:27 AM

Michelle ♥

Thanks a billion. But this made me love (and miss!) the video VENT segments all over again. Good times — I especially liked “The View” one, and the goofy, moment-in-real-life Wii one.

Keep on truckin’! Much love and thanks!

lansing quaker on February 22, 2010 at 5:19 AM

OK, so is MM saying that giving your principles for money is OK???

georgealbert on February 22, 2010 at 6:49 AM

I agree with Michelle. Hot Air will go on to even more greatness. Allahpundit and Ed will keep the fires burning in the hearts of the Hot Air community. They have both been wonderful at the task. I wish Michelle the best and look forward to new greatness for Hot Air.

kanda on February 22, 2010 at 7:20 AM

Thank you Michelle, Ed and Allah!

Thank you for hosting a site for like-minded people.
Thank you for helping me keep my sanity when I realized I wasn’t the only one not cheering on inauguration day last January.
Thank you for keeping us up to date on the latest news that you really can’t find anywhere else.
Thank you for all the material you’ve all researched to help me when debating the other side on other sites.
Thank you Ed and Allah for all the time you put in writing, researching and posting. It must occupy all your time.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor as we enjoy this site.
Lastly, thanks for the laughs from the platform you’ve provided. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed out loud reading the comments.

NYconservative on February 22, 2010 at 8:18 AM

God Bless teh Boss!

I discovered Hot Air around March 2008, you know, as the Rev. Wright stuff was getting hot. I feel utterly unimformed and rubish without a daily visit for information.

thebrokenrattle on February 22, 2010 at 8:40 AM

As one who has been here from the beginning, (but seldom posts), it has been a pleasure watching this site grow.

Kudos to you all,,,

Chuck on February 22, 2010 at 8:51 AM

OK, so is MM saying that giving your principles for money is OK???

georgealbert on February 22, 2010 at 6:49 AM

Elaborate, please.

Yoop on February 22, 2010 at 8:55 AM

HA roolz

HuffPo droolz

blatantblue on February 22, 2010 at 9:06 AM

She made me cry a little. Aloha Michelle.

jeanie on February 22, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Thanks Michelle, will never be the same without you.

Wade on February 22, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Classy stuff Michelle!

I was fortunate enough to arrive here on day one, register & have watched the blog evolve throughout day in & out, it has always been an amazing place.

Only upward & onward going forward. Mazal Tov to all & props to AP -> He’s the man & a big pansy all at once, that’s what makes him so special lol :)

saus on February 22, 2010 at 9:18 AM

I discovered HotAir during the 2008 campaign, right before Palin was announced as the VP nominee, and it\’s been my favorite blog ever since. Ed and AllahPundit are two of the very best, imo, and each brings their own unique take on the issues and stories of the day that I very much look forward to reading. Please don\’t change!

changer1701 on February 22, 2010 at 9:33 AM

I began reading from day one, after being an MM addict all throughout high school. It’s been a great website.

Frankly, it’s the BEST right wing blog out there. Three of y’all should be very proud.

blatantblue on February 22, 2010 at 9:35 AM

canopfor on February 22, 2010 at 1:55 AM

Prayers for your brother & family, and for you dear one. Pease keep us posted.

indypat on February 22, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Again, Thank you all putting together a site that has kept me a captive member of Hot Air from Day One. Hot Air continues to be the future, the soap box on steroids. Michelle saw it and with the help of her partner and friends vaulted Hot Air to the top.

The success of Hot Air comes from the vision of Michelle, the audacity of Allpundent, and Ed’s (who for what ever reason reminds me of Mr. Ed) many talents. All, of which will shortly, if it not has already, make Hot Air a Harvard Business Review Case Study.

If Townhall (which I subscribe to and respect) allow Hot Air to grow as a partner without undue influence, this new Team venture will become the most respected means for the public to air their opinion freely with a sense their ideas are being heard and may take root to put U.S. on the road to recovery.

Sincerely, Good luck and fortune to all from a viewer, reader, and contributor who is always looking for ways to spread the truth and overcome the propaganda of the left.

MSGTAS on February 22, 2010 at 9:38 AM

Sad to see you go Michelle. I rememeber when HotAir started. You’ve created my favorite site on the internet. HA is the fist place I hit at the beginning of the day and the last thing I check…and that’s coming from a Drudge fanatic!
I’m glad things won’t be changing much with the site as Ed and AP have decided to stay. Maybe they can get Bryan Preston back as a guest blogger or something.
We’ll be checking in on you at and when you show up on Fox.

Good Luck and God Bless!

MechEng5by5 on February 22, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Thank you MM, I’ll (we’ll) miss you here and follow you anywhere.

aceinstall on February 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Wow! What a big Freudian slip by MM. I always looked ar HotAir as a simple Conservative leaning blog that provided up-to-the-minute news and analysis towards that end. Nice to know it was all just a business to it’s creators.

To start off by talking about Vents yet not include Bryan then spend more than half of the time defending AllahPundit almost made this sound defensive. Bryan, who joined Laura Ingraham’s radio show, was the religious right to AllahPundit’s Libertarian left. HA started with a balance of power and Bryan, to me, seemed more in line with MM’s pol views.

When Ed joined he was touted as Conservative enough to fill Bryan’s shoes. Over time, though, that began to wear down and Ed has been more comfortable in confessing he has more Libertarian views in step with AllahPundit. It has changed the dynamics here. And original commentators will well note that many regularly Conservative commenters vanished from the site. Look over the last four years at six month intervals and tell me which periods had the most open registrations.

I often wondered how MM could keep her association with HA when she rarely or ever commented or blogged here after Bryan left and the video Vents were disbanded. Her views seemed far more Conservative than what HA has ultimately turned into now. But I guess, as she states, it was business and she found her financial out. Good for her. Good timing and I’m not begrudging here that. Just not liking the spin.

With all this said, it’s not like I’m gonna leave the site. This is something everyone associated in the HA business understands quite well. Now that the proper following and amounts have been made, AP and Ed’s political views are secondary to what goes on here. It’s not what makes us come or leave. It’s the types of stories and the speed and seemlessness by which they come here. Plus, I rarely if ever get criticized for stating an opposing view. I am left to rail against the machine unopposed.

Besides, if I left where would I go? What blog brings you this much news of interest to right leaning thinkers in a day? Not many. And the ones that do are the Preppie, tweed jacket wearing, elitists like Reynolds or Rich. Dry, boring, witless, and uneffective at this genre. They are intellectual columnists not fit to entertain. Ultimately that’s what HA is to me, Conservative entertainment in the guise of saucy sarcasm of the addictive pain of love to hate them because they know EXACTLY what they’re doing. So Ed can be more Centrist from now on because he knows it doesn’t matter.

Sultry Beauty on February 22, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Thanks Michelle for an informative and amusing site. For Salem, bring back MKH and the peeps!

SoonerMarine on February 22, 2010 at 10:29 AM

canopfor on February 22, 2010 at 1:19 AM

canopfor on February 22, 2010 at 1:55 AM

I’m so sorry to see this…you are like family now, you know…
I will be saying prayers….and am sending you (((hugs)))

lovingmyUSA on February 22, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Michelle, thanks for creating this great place for us to gather. You will always be “The Boss” to me!

JamesLee on February 22, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Thanks for EVERYTHING, Michelle! Thanks for our information playground, and thanks for all the fun.

As many have said before me, you will always be The Boss to me.

Keep up the fantastic work, Guys!!

tickleddragon on February 22, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Thank you Michelle!!!

MT on February 22, 2010 at 10:54 AM

You wanted … a place where you could find all the political coverage you needed, but also a place where you could get comic relief, humpbot videos, the latest “Duuudes” and “Hmmms” and “Heart-aches,” and off-beat stories of the day.

Youbetcha. And don’t forget “evahs“! As in:

…to some of my favorite shows mocking the Cindy Sheehan Diet Plan

Just about the best video evah.

Gonna miss you, ma belle.

RD on February 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Love ya, MM.

PS–I want a cool HotAir hat too.

ted c on February 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Thanks for that Michelle. Hot Air is an important part of my day, and I want to thank everyone at Hot Air for the great work.

simkeith on February 22, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Thank you Michelle and team, for creating something as unique and important as HotAir.

runner on February 22, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Thanks Michelle – You and the whole HA team have a lot of class and have made this site one of my favorites!

peski on February 22, 2010 at 11:33 AM

You are what keeps Hot Air rising.

Awesome. We’ve replaced physics.

samuelrylander on February 22, 2010 at 11:56 AM

I have to admit that my pulse skipped when I first heard news
of the pending sale. Since change is not my natural inclination, and this site has been a mind saver at a time when lost minds seem to be at an all time high, I feared that someone might be yanking my blankie.
However things sort out, there has been much to be thankful for here, so, thanks Michelle.
Ed and AP, there are a lot of people counting on you, so keep the faith. (or something along those lines, AP)

ontherocks on February 22, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Best of luck Miss Malkin. You gave birth to a terrific and influential blog. Job well done!

Hilts on February 22, 2010 at 12:14 PM

I forgot when I stumbled on to this site, but I loved it when I found it & was waiting expectantly for what seemed like forever to have the honor to contribute.

I was overjoyed when the register opened up & was quick to do so.

I salute you Michelle, Allah, & Ed for giving me the opportunity to share my views about my unique life in agriculture, as well as my political & scientific musings with the world outside of the frozen North AKA North Dakota.
I can’t get this kind of exposure here!

Badger40 on February 22, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Congratulations on providing yet another living example of how capitalism is still alive and breathing (despite attempts from certain quarters to choke it out). Thank you for setting up such an awesome site, and good luck in your future projects, “Boss” ;)

DrAllecon on February 22, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Congrats to MM and her family. She created HA from scratch and the market has rewarded her efforts.

DrW on February 22, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Thanks Michelle for getting this ball rolling.

Yakko77 on February 22, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Thanks MM you are more than an inspiration you are an example.

lilium on February 22, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Thank you, Michelle

rjoco1 on February 22, 2010 at 3:07 PM

So… when is Michelle’s website going to rate a link on Hot Air?

malclave on February 22, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Yes…I am also a Hot Air addict. Not much of a blogger, but a daily reader. Thank you all for what you do to keep us lookey-loos informed.

Hot Air ROCKS!!!

Country First on February 22, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Me hearts me some Michelle.

Me also hearts me that HotAir hat. Sheesh, I wish us peasants could get one of those…..*hint, hint*

ted c on February 22, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Thanks Michelle, and God bless you and yours. Keep fighting the good fight. Glad to also be a registered participant over there “a click away.” :o)

infidel4life on February 22, 2010 at 8:11 PM

It is meaningful to be a part of this large, funny, concerned, angry, and opinionated MOB! I think of HA as an example of the spirit of America – an idea that became a reality through team work and determination…and now it has provided sweet success for deserving people! You have given a voice to many of us who might not ever be heard. I appreciate the speedy news, commentary, funny pictures, snark, and connections HA provides. Like so many others here, I am totally addicted to HA – and it is good! Thanks and best wishes.

redwhiteblue on February 22, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Wow – fantastic news… and I must say Thank you! (Michelle, Ed M. and A-P) for making this place grow even more powerful!
We have a tough row to hoe this ELECTION YEAR – we must GROW CONSERVATISM like never before to DEFEAT THE IDIOCY OF SOCIALISM – in November this year and in the election of 2012 – otherwise this nation will cease to exist as the freest nation in the world.

Ron C on February 22, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Thanks Michelle for taking a chance on a little video blog called realVerse. We had fun “guest hosting” for you on HA.

realVerse on February 22, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Hey, Mrs. Michelle. You can say whatever you want, but you’ve left this blog in a disgusting mess.

apacalyps on February 22, 2010 at 11:42 PM

As a charter, though infrequent, poster here, it’s good to see that the old boss did good.

Farewell Mrs. Malkin and DLTHD… just kidding, godspeed.


DuffBeer on February 23, 2010 at 2:18 AM

Whoops! How’d that H get in there? I hate messing up the punch line.

DuffBeer on February 23, 2010 at 2:19 AM