‘Abrasive’ and ‘feared’ journalist Kara Swisher set to speak at Email Evolution

By John Egan

She’s relentless. She’s tough. She’s confrontational. She’s “proudly charmless and abrasive.” She’s the “most feared and well-liked journalist” in Silicon Valley.

No matter the phrase used to describe her, the journalist in question — Kara Swisher — has certainly made an impression during her career.

“Swisher is both so famously thin-skinned and so notoriously combative that she’s created a let’s-not-go-there force field around herself. Nobody wants to challenge her for fear of her backlash,” USA Today media columnist Michael Wolff wrote.

On April 1, Swisher will bring her unique brand of candor and insights to DMA’s Email Evolution Conference as a keynote speaker.

Swisher, co-founder and co-executive director of tech news website Re/code, began carving her reputation in tech journalism nearly 20 years ago as a reporter in the San Francisco bureau of The Wall Street Journal, following a stint at The Washington Post. Swisher eventually became co-executive editor of The Journal’s AllThingsD, a hub for tech news.

In December 2013, AllThingsD split off from the Journal. Right after that, Swisher and AllThingsD colleague Walt Mossberg debuted their rebranded website, Re/code. Today, Swisher is executive editor of Re/code, which Vox Media bought in 2015. NBCUniversal owns a major stake in Vox.


Now under the Vox umbrella, Swisher remains as assertive as ever in her coverage of the tech industry, particularly Yahoo, with which she has waged war for several years.

“I want to win a lot. I don’t want to just win, I want to beat the people into the ground. I’m really competitive, and I’ve always been competitive as a reporter,” she said at a conference sponsored by Tech Cocktail. “I wouldn’t say I’m shy.”

It’s that kind of attitude that has won Swisher respect and praise in journalism circles. Forbes contributor Eric Jackson goes so far as to anoint her “the best tech journalist” out there today. Indeed, Swisher continues to dig up scoops about Yahoo, such as a recent piece revealing that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has developed a layoff list that relies on a sort of performance-driven pecking order in the workforce.

In a profile on Swisher, New York magazine’s Benjamin Wallace says it’s “unusual that a writer sometimes characterized as snarky or bullying has thrived in a subculture that venerates rosy, self­-regarding idealism and that, in an industry that is constantly touting its transcendence of pedestrian mass media, a shoe-leather reporter should attain such stature.”

Click here to register for Email Evolution Conference, March 30 – Apr. 1, 2016, in New Orleans.