Kelly Bourdet is either a ghost, a witch, or a sorceress, depending on who you ask. Perhaps she’s all three. She is also, without fail, a genius editor, a fierce advocate for great journalism, and a Very Good Boss.
So good, in fact, that roasting Kelly in any true sense is virtually impossible. The worst thing anyone can say about her is that she used to vape and has a soft spot for growing mold in her half-empty office coffee mugs. But as someone who currently vapes and has a strong tolerance for other people’s filth, even these digs ring hollow.
The truth is, simply being in Kelly’s presence can feel like a self-own. She’s smarter, more composed, and more stylish than anyone else in any room she’s in—something you’ll hear a lot more about in the so-called roasts below. The first time I met Kelly, back in 2017, I was very proud of the outfit I’d picked out for my job interview with her only to feel like a tiny clown when she whisked into the room. That feeling has endured daily over the past two and a half years of working with her. To make matters worse, I can’t count the number of times she’d take a quick glance at a story I’d been working on for hours and make it infinitely better in just minutes. See? Even now trying to roast Kelly only results in me roasting myself. I’m just going to give up.
Beyond her unrivaled journalistic chops and cool clothes, Kelly is simply a damn good human being. There are, I assume, plenty of smart, competent bosses in this world. But none I’ve met are graced with an equal capacity for empathy, a ceaseless moral clarity, and an otherworldly ability to navigate the hellfires on behalf of the amazing team of weirdos she’s built at this here website.
I knew we’d lose Kelly eventually—someone of her caliber and tethers to the supernatural simply cannot stay in one place forever—but losing her to CNN was pretty far down on my list of possibilities. Still, now that we know where she’s headed, I have just one bit of advice: Watch your back, Jeff Zucker.
Thank you for your leadership, wisdom, guidance, and everything you did for this pirate ship, Kelly Bourdet. Gizmodo forever. – Andrew Couts, Deputy Editor of Gizmodo
Stephen Totilo, Editor-in-Chief of Kotaku
Kelly Bourdet has been a truly inspirational figure here at G/O Media, able to motivate her peers to previously undreamt achievements—such as when she burst out into uncontrollable laughter during a big meeting with siteleads and other senior members of the company, tried to pass it off as a coughing fit, ran out of the conference room, went into hiding in her office, then sheepishly slacked me to tell me that she’d left her laptop at her seat and, oh, could I just tell them she was feeling sick and could I bring that laptop to her when the meeting was over? Always happy to support you, Kelly!
Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief of Lifehacker
In a time when so much is uncertain, it is a comfort—nay, a balm—to know with confidence that some day, somehow, in a distant future yet undefined, some intrepid soul will enter Kelly’s abandoned office high above New York City and find no fewer than nine kombucha mothers thriving in filthy glass tumblers on her desk.
There’s too much to be legitimately despondent over right now, so rather than think of how sad I’ll be without Kelly as my dearest comrade-in-arms, I’ll remember us in our natural habitat, drinking martinis at the bar at the Times Square Junior’s, a scene as hilarious, absurd and wonderful as Kelly herself. As she was so fond of quoting, at moments both appropriate and bewilderingly inappropriate, “To the moon…and beyond!” Excelsior, Kelly!
Alex Dickinson, former Executive Managing Editor at GMG
I wish I could say that Kelly would regularly come to me in the office for my wise counsel as a former editor at Gizmodo. The truth is that she only ever walked over to my desk to steal nicotine lozenges before smiling, nodding, and promptly walking off. As if this constant snubbing wasn’t enough, she has repeatedly and publicly accused my dog of leaving a giant steamer in one of the office phone rooms. While she is 100% correct, I still resent her implicating the doggo in something that to this day has never been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite all this, Kelly is a total badass. She led Gizmodo expertly and pushed the site into a new and exciting era it couldn’t have gone without her steady hand, imagination, leadership, and thorough nerdiness. RIP.
Katie Drummond, SVP, Global Content at Vice Media
Few professional memories make me feel worse than Kelly Bourdet’s first few weeks as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo, a website I ran for a year prior to recruiting and hiring her, and had come to love and adore more than anything on the planet. As Kelly jumped in headfirst — and make no mistake, that was a very daunting jump to take — I was embroiled in one of the most frustrating, exasperating, and ultimately, stupid as shit, disputes with our new corporate overlords. So obviously I quit like an asshole, weeks after she started. Kelly: I am very, very, very sorry. Needless to say, she didn’t miss a beat, because Kelly certainly didn’t need me (or anybody else) to make Gizmodo into her own, hiring up stellar reporters and editors, publishing scoop after scoop, continuing the site’s long legacy of being very funny and often (and importantly!) very rude, and overall making Gizmodo smarter and more authoritative than it’s ever been. CNN is lucky as hell, and long live Gizmodo.
Rob Bricken, writer and former Editor of io9
Kelly, bless you for sheltering io9 in general and myself in particular from all the nonsense. It was and always will be greatly appreciated.
Ryan Mandelbaum, Senior Science Writer at Gizmodo
Kelly, I feel so lucky that I got to work with an editor-in-chief like you. As a writer with a truly obscure and niche set of beats, I always feel a little sidelined—but you made me feel like my blogs really mattered, even the birdiest ones. Like, I still can’t believe you let me lead a bird walk and edit a print zine about birds for our tech website. But I also felt supported knowing that you understood why we should cover the weird, esoteric quantum computing blogs. I’m going to miss your earnest interest in the things that I’m working on, your encouragement, and most importantly, getting to work in the same office as an actual witch. Thanks for having me over to cut your lawn with a machete that one time, thanks for inspiring me to grow a scoby on my desk.
Mario Aguilar, former Deputy Editor of Gizmodo
Kelly likes to keep festering bacteria in mugs and cups in her office. She thinks they are “cute.” They stink, and it’s gross, and I don’t care if you majored in chemistry or whatever, but you shouldn’t do that.
It also probably explains why she let me sit next to her for so long.
Kelly is a fabulous leader and a great friend, and that I ended up getting to work on this blog with her for years without getting canned I attribute wholly to luck and to her infinite powers of forgiveness because I made what I still feel is among the most cringe-worthy first impressions of my life.
Here’s what happened my first few weeks working with Kelly:
- On her first day, I was pointed out as the guy she should talk to about stuff, and she asked if I could help her scan her paperwork. Mario to the rescue! Yes, I am a competent technology man, and I can help you scan these onboarding documents, as I have done with thousands of forms over the years. I am very experienced, and I am the man to be your number 2, yes I am. (I failed.)
- Later that week she asked me, basically, “what exactly is it that you do here,” and I stammered through an answer explaining that “I, you know, work with lots of aspects of the tech team,” and a million other words and sentences that I’m sure essentially came out sounding like, “Mario micromanages people, ok? That’s his job.”
- Kelly took dozens and dozens of meetings her first few weeks and managed to come down with a crippling case of the flu that was going around the office. She kept the meetings and no doubt helped spread the virus to the whole team. I was about to go on a long vacation, so I stopped coming to the office for fear I would get sick (RELEVANT!!). Before I disappeared, I came in for an update meeting with Kelly and basically ranted at top volume at my visibly depleted boss about what I thought needed to happen with the blog. Her expression barely changed for a whole hour. I don’t think she was listening.
Anyway, in what I can only assume was an act of total desperation—we had, uhh, trouble hiring at the time—Kelly let me stay, and it was fun! The blog was fantastic under Kelly, and we did so many amazing stories and projects, often under very trying circumstances. The site would probably be dead now if not for her. So thank you, Kelly, and bless your disgusting amateur science projects.
George Dvorsky, Senior Science Reporter at Gizmodo
There’s been a lot of turmoil, chaos, and uncertainty here over the past few years, resulting in no shortage of stress and disorientation among us writers and other staff. Through it all, you showed tremendous poise and courage, never hesitating to speak up and express your concerns when warranted. When things got bananas—which they often did—I could count on you to have our backs—you were that leader at the helm who was willing to stick their neck out. It’s for this I’ll be forever grateful.
Whitney Kimball, Staff Writer at Gizmodo
Kelly is a sorceress. She Has Her Shit Together to the extent that I can only logically conclude that she’s using a time-turner. Did Kelly walk or glide around the office? Is Kelly 23 or 1000? I’ll never know.
Germain Lussier, Entertainment Reporter at io9 and Gizmodo
Kelly, though I will no longer contractually be obligated to do so, feel free to contact me for movie and TV recommendations anytime. At least now, when you disagree with them, I won’t feel like I could lose my job.
In all seriousness, you are an incredible leader. Fearless, bold, but also thoughtful and kind. Though I work 3000 miles away, that you took the time to meet me while you were in LA meant a lot. You’re going to kick ass at CNN which, now that I think of it, was across the street from that coffee shop. Shit, did I do this? I’m sorry, everyone!
Yessenia Funes, Senior Writer at Earther
Kelly, oh, Kelly. I still remember the first time we met. I was taken away by your bold fashion taste—and intimidated by the fact that you’d be my boss. I’ve had a’many woman bosses but none with your swag and confidence. To be frank, I was pretty scared of you for most of my time here, haha. I still am a little bit. I mean, how do you do the all black thing? With a cat? I never really noticed much cat hair on you. Makes me wonder if you’re actually a witch… Anyway, I’m really bummed we only recently started bonding. I’ll miss you! Here’s to a future of gaming together online.
Danielle Belton, Editor-in-Chief of The Root
Wishing you nothing but the best even though I feel the worst about you leaving. I’m also like, why? And also like, FINE! I’ll accept it, I guess. But when days are darkest, I will look back upon our time in the trenches together with fondness. Even if you won’t be at G/O anymore, we’ll always have Hoboken.
Aleksander Chan, Former Editor in Chief of Splinter
Something many people don’t know/realize is that when we worked together, Kelly constantly owned me.
Every week in our editors-in-chief meeting, Kelly would come armed with a lineup of exclusives, scoops, and/or news-making stories; CUT TO: me excitedly telling the room about our post comparing all the Democratic presidential candidates to The Fast and the Furious characters.
And when an almost comical series of calamities and dramas plagued the office, Kelly was always the most even-keeled and strategic among us; I once shouted we were working in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Now she’ll be bringing her immense talents to CNN, where I have all the confidence that her imitable cool will inspire everyone to step up their game; I am unemployed.
Kelly rules and we’re all just trying to catch up.
Patrick George, Former EIC of Jalopnik, now Editorial Director of The Drive Media
My favorite memory of working with Kelly is actually a fairly recent one. Last fall (500 years ago now, in the Before Times) I was in a meeting with her and other editors-in-chief at G/O Media. I was already on the way out at this point, ready to settle into the pit of depression and self-loathing that was my richly deserved reward for working at Gawker Media and its successor companies as long as I did. Needless to say, I was pretty checked out.
But during this meeting, we were trying to suss out the negative impact the autoplay ad apocalypse was having on our audience growth. One person, though ostensibly in charge of audience development, was typically clueless. And I remember Kelly blowing this person away with a detailed explanation involving data, analytics, Google algorithms and lines of code why things were so bad. This individual—again, responsible for audience growth—was caught like a deer in headlights.
To be fair, so was I. “How the hell does Kelly know all that?”, I wondered to a colleague. Then it was like, no shit, of course she knows all that. She’s the goddamn Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo. She’s not just one of the sharpest and best people in tech journalism, she’s typically the smartest person in whatever room she’s in. It’s one reason of many why I respect her so much and why I so enjoyed working with her over the years.
I guess if I have to roast her, I’ll say that she’s the most aggressive office-vaper I’ve ever known. Whenever she’d come visit the Jalopnik pod I thought she was just coming to say hi, but no, she was usually only trying to borrow someone’s Juul or whatever. It was still nice to see her.
Brian Merchant, Senior editor of books at OneZero, founder of Gizmodo’s Automaton column
Kelly Bourdet is an enigma wrapped in the future wrapped in a blog. When I first met her, she was writing a good and ahead-of-the-curve column called Future Sex for Motherboard, where I went to work as an editor approximately 18 million years ago. This was before most tech writers were doing things that could be described as “interesting,” and Kelly was certainly that — even if I often found myself met with the ‘Bourdet stare’ which is the look you get from Kelly when you are telling her about some gripping new trend in technology culture that she has obviously already heard all about like two months ago.
In about the time that I had as much as switched office chairs, Kelly had gone from doing columns to editing to working at some kind of oil refinery to running the biggest technology blog on the internet. It was insane, but it made sense, as there are few if any editors or operators as assured, as probing, as aggressively non-boring in the tech media biz. She brought out the best in Giz, in all its news-breaking, bloggy, investigation-unfurling, gadget-reviewing glory.
So when I was looking to hock my blog-wares while gathering up related info for a book about automation, there was no one I’d rather turn to — Kelly handed me the keys to Kinja and we made Automaton, the kind of hybrid blog/reported/opinion thing that can only live at a site like Gizmodo, and thanks to her and the team it was one of the things I’m most proud of in the whole of my career. Kelly has a weird innate sense for which threads to pull, how to let writers breathe, and where to push. When she leaves the blog farm for more MSMy pastures, I’m sure she’ll continue to do the same and more — all the best, Kelly.
Shoshana Wodinsky, Staff Reporter at Gizmodo
It’s a bit superstitious, but I’d rather not risk roasting someone who most likely (definitely) has legitimate witchcraft abilities. Hope the rest of yall like being hexed.
Danielle Steinberg, Former Senior Producer at Gizmodo
Kelly’s one of the best bosses I ever had. I walked away from every encounter feeling more inspired and constantly learning. EXCEPT for a few interactions:
1. When Kelly was wrong about Jafar being hot
2. When Kelly was wrong about Fatbergs
3. The time I told Kelly her voice reminded me of the girl in the Daria series who was the leader of Quinn’s fashion club or that she was basically the muppet Janice.
Eleanor Fye, Video Producer at Gizmodo & io9
Kelly is a strange person to have as a boss. She has this way of looking at you up and down, as though she wants you to know that she is evaluating your fashion sense and/or soul. (Good thing I have neither, so this intimidation tactic did not work)
Her main claim to fame as Gizmodo EIC is starting one of the best slacks — women at Gizmodo dot com. That slack has discussed how bangable the Robin Hood fox is at least once a month since 2017. I suspect she hired so many amazing women at Gizmodo so that that slack could have fresh perspectives on how bangable the Robin Hood fox is.
CNN is lucky to have Kelly Bourdet.
Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter at Gizmodo
People might know Kelly for being the EIC of Gizmodo, a mystic, and an argent crusader fighting the spread of shitty mid-century modern furniture. However, what they might not know is that Kelly is also a big fan of foldable phones. Not so much that she’s silly or thirsty enough to buy one quite yet (for obvious reasons), but if it wasn’t for the pandemic keeping us from going into the office, there’s a decent chance she might have “borrowed” my Z Flip for an extended trial. And in some ways, her interest in such a wide range of topics was one of the most important things she brought to Gizmodo. Kelly steered us and had our backs while also letting us be weird and awkward unlike a lot of other sites on the net, and I want to thank for her for everything she’s done for our team.
And maybe when CNN finds out Kelly is haunted, they’ll let us have her back.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, Staff Writer at io9
When I was a child, my parents used to huddle themselves into a room to whisper to one another in hushed tones about the devastating curse that had been put upon me by the Media Witch who manifested herself into our home not long after I was born. “One day,” the Media Witch said. “Your son and I will be colleagues and I will transform him into someone who you can scarcely recognize.”
Understandably, my parents were alarmed, but it was the early 90s they couldn’t quite understand exactly what the witch’s “curse” meant. In reality, that media witch was one Kelly Bourdet who, despite (or perhaps because of) her intense otherworldly presence, I ended up gravitating towards while also staying a healthy distance away from, as the arcane energies radiating from her were often a smidge too overwhelming to be in the direct presence of.
But in my working with Kelly, she showed herself to be a reliable paragon of unshakable moral fortitude, which was truly surprising as she was the Devil’s agent. But at the same time she demonstrated for me what it means to truly be a strong leader of a team doing all it could to fight back the forces of darkness. She will be truly missed and she also will haunt us all so long as we exist in the mortal realm.
Matt Novak, Editor of Paleofuture
I’m incredibly sad to see Kelly leave Gizmodo after so many years leading a team of people that I’m proud to call my fellow bloggers. But I’m extremely grateful that she was my boss for as long as she was.
Gizmodo has seen a lot of turbulence over the years, between the lawsuits directed at a former parent company, getting bought and sold by various other companies, and watching sister sites destroyed for no good reason at all. And while I don’t know all the details of every issue Kelly faced to keep Gizmodo humming as a functional outlet that people actually wanted to read, I do know that Kelly fought for her writers and editors in ways that few other editors in chief would. I was only able to do my job because Kelly was constantly vigilant.
As Kelly likes to note, I’m the only Gizmodo writer she’s never met in person. And while we’ve never met in real life, I can confidently say that she’s someone you want on your side in any fight. Kelly and my colleagues in the blog mines are the adults in the room, no matter what bullshit you may read elsewhere. And honestly I don’t know what the future holds without her at the helm.
Good luck at CNN, Kelly. You’re going to be sorely missed.
Victoria Song, Consumer Tech Reporter at Gizmodo
For my first few months at Gizmodo, most of what I knew about Kelly was tidbits of lore that people kept dropping in Slack. Witchcraft, tarot cards, occult things, a lip tattoo, and a freakish ability to eat Sichuan peppercorns and not immediately die.
All these things led me to conclude that Kelly is in fact an immortal being masquerading around as a human. The Venn diagram of EICs who are cool, stylishly goth, and intelligent is basically only Kelly so clearly something or someone was hexed at a crossroads in Georgia.
Since those first few months, I have 1) sold Kelly my tickets to a Lizzo concert; 2) built a ladder for her in Animal Crossing; and 3) wrote some blogs. I’m hoping the first two are enough so that whenever Kelly ascends to a higher plane of being to judge us all, I am spared.
But in all seriousness, Kelly’s built a formidable team here at Gizmodo that includes some of the smartest, funniest women I’ve had the privilege of working with. (The men are okay too). CNN’s newsroom will be lucky to have such an advocate for unique voices. Thank you so much for giving me the space to write about my dad, mysterious taint wearables, and my whackadoodle time with the stonk market.
P.S.—The earrings you got me for Secret Santa are one of my favorites.
Brian Kahn, Managing Editor of Earther
If you’re here for a spicy story, please feel free to move on. Kelly is the rare Cool Boss who also encourages you to try different things and aim big. When I brought the idea of holding a presidential climate debate to her and Maddie Stone, Earther’s founding managing editor, I was worried I’d be laughed out of the room. Instead, she and Maddie took it seriously and encouraged me to make it happen. And when it didn’t quite work out as planned, she supported me through some trials and tribulations.
You know, there was this one time we had a meeting in her office and she had a couple dozen used mugs and glasses on her desk, which was kinda weird now that I think about it. I mean, I respect the commitment to saving the Earth, but who does that?
Bryan Menegus, Senior Writer at Gizmodo
If there’s one thing I can say about working with Kelly Bourdet, it’s that she is an unusually gifted editor who has absolutely no business running a technology website. It’s not just that she shows a total ambivalence to consumer gadgets, or that in a pitch meeting she once described the internet (just as a general communication medium, I guess?) as “a mistake”. At irregular intervals Kelly will remind her staff in unguarded moments that no idea is too ridiculous to entertain, even if it flies in the face of the data, science and empirical reality her website ostensibly covers and champions.
Yes there’s her penchant for tarot, and a deep and abiding love of Costar (which, point in her favor, is an app—a decidedly Tech Thing). But her willingness to invite alternative realities includes belief systems which spring entirely from her mind alone. I don’t remember the details but, late one day after the carpets in our new(ish) Times Square office made one of the door handles zap me with static electricity, she explained matter-of-factly that she could control electrical fields around her body. Or maybe that it was that devices around her could sense her level of electrical charge? Who remembers, it made no sense, but CNN seems a good a place as any to invent things out of whole cloth.
Still, there’s no denying that for every time Kelly told us with a straight face that ghosts are definitely, 100% real, there were two more when she was quietly and thanklessly fighting for the integrity of Gizmodo, an unflagging champion for blogs she may have ideologically disagreed with. She’s an empathetic boss, a patient mentor, and her new reports are lucky to have an editor who sees making enemies with powerful liars as an obvious, imperative part of the job. That said, objective reality is considerably worse now than when Kelly started in 2017 so I’m pinning all that on her. Good riddance!!
Tom McKay, Staff Writer at Gizmodo
About two and a half years ago, I was pulling night shifts as a newswriter somewhere in the upper floors of One World Trade Center. This was for a company that was undergoing a slow-rolling implosion and not nearly as fun as it sounds.
Fortunately, Kelly Bourdet set up a phone interview with me the very next day after getting my application, and my time here at Gizmodo’s slow-rolling implosion has been an absolute blast. This has everything to do with Kelly and the amazing team she has assembled here. Like almost everyone else here, I was intimidated by this site’s gargantuan reputation and worried I wouldn’t live up to it. But Kelly made me feel like a member of the crew from day one despite me mostly working from my hovel of a residence, including going well out of her way to include me in meetings, work with me on stories, and chat with me countless times about which decoctions to use to kill a werewolf in Witcher 3 or what horse to go off and find in Red Dead Redemption 2. (Kelly is low key the biggest nerd in this office.) She’s also cultivated a site where we’re free to be ourselves and let that shine through in our writing, whether it’s a birding hobby, a personal essay about which our family members might be North Korean spies, what Baby Yoda tastes like, or proclaiming an electronic chicken door the gadget of the year. In my case that has meant tolerating and in some cases actively goading my most demented instincts, like gambling away thousands of yen in pursuit of a Japanese plushie called Yeast Ken. I still personally blame her for that infamous eight-monitor rig slash terrifying metal spider we dug up on Craigslist, as well as my current haircut.
Kelly is also the rock upon which all the doomed enemies of this blog have ran themselves to a watery grave for years, whether it’s backing our stories against corporate flacks, shielding us from what I can only assume are thousands of furious emails calling for our firings, or standing up for the team against the inscrutable vagaries of whichever media chop shop happens to own our company at any given time. Kelly has the amazing ability to project a total sense of calm when we need it, or be utterly terrifying in our defense. I assume these mesmeric qualities are due to her being an actual witch.
Kelly, if you’re reading this, I beg of you: call off Black Phillip and finally let me, my cold-hearted wife, and my awful pilgrim children live in peace.
Rose Pastore, Science Editor of Gizmodo
Kelly taught me so much, especially about respecting the supernatural. I will miss her terribly. After she announced she was leaving, I asked her if she had any parting wisdom for me. She said that depended on how much honesty I could handle.
Jill Pantozzi, Deputy Editor of io9
Whenever I came into the office, Kelly—who is one of the nicest, most talented people I’ve ever worked with—consistently made me feel bad about my outfit simply by matter of existing. Truly a style icon.
Jennings Brown, former Gizmodo Reporter
I’m pretty sure when Kelly first met me she despised me. This was our first job together, before Gizmodo. She had inherited me as one of her writers. I think she was expecting a cybersecurity reporter. I definitely was not that, and she wasn’t sure what to do with me. That all changed when I pitched a story about an all-woman team of ghost hunters. Never had I seen such enthusiasm for a pitch. She immediately made me book a flight to Florida so I could follow these paranormal investigators as they used robots, pseudoscience, and a haunted doll to search for the ghost of a Confederate soldier in his creepy mansion. After I returned from that trip, many bad things happened to me. Kelly surmised that the misfortunes befell me because I had brought dark spirits back from the ghost hunt. She gifted me a “double action” spell-reversing candle that was supposed to cast out evil spirits and negative energy. I started lighting it at night. My life got better.
This is when I realized the reason Kelly was interested in my offbeat occult pitches was because she’s actually a witch. Don’t get me wrong—Kelly believes in science. She oversaw incredible science reporting under Earther and Gizmodo’s science vertical. But I think anyone who has worked with Kelly would agree that she has some sort of supernatural strength and courage. It’s the only way I can explain how she was able to manage a team of unhinged miscreants through one fiasco after another, all the while fighting for every one of us so we could continue to do fearless and impactful journalism and tell strange stories that wouldn’t be published anywhere else.
Kelly also has uncanny editorial wisdom. I can’t count the times I have wrestled with a story for hours or days until Kelly gave it one skim and suggested a simple change that made the piece work, and elevated it to something I was actually proud of. Kelly is also a master of story framing. She forever changed the way I structure articles, and gave me a whole new respect for nut graphs. She pushes people to be better reporters, and encourages them to pursue their journalistic curiosities, no matter how bizarre or esoteric.
Only once did I see Kelly make a poor editorial decision. That was October 2016 when I asked her if I could profile a budding social media phenom and presidential candidate from Oklahoma named Joe Exotic. She didn’t greenlight it, and I will never forgive her.
Gizmodo won’t be the same without Kelly. But it will remain as crucial and irreverent as ever. That’s largely because Kelly piloted it through many uncertain times. She assembled an amazing staff and emboldened them all to fight for themselves and their voice.
I have no doubt that Gizmodo will continue to produce great work under G/O. But they are going to need a shit-ton of spell-reversing candles.
Marina Galperina, Features Editor at Gizmodo
It was a pair of neon green vinyl high-heeled boots (never, to my best knowledge, worn) perched in the corner of Kelly’s ridiculously chaotic office that should have signaled to us her inevitable chrysalis. These days, apparently, Kelly is tired of looking “like a mortician” and is “pulled towards bright colors and patterns.” Wow. As she steps out of the shadows of Gizmodo life—at times, a fog, comfortingly mysterious like Kelly herself; at other times, thundering black clouds of spiritual torture—I wish her a blessed and drama-free journey through self-actualization.
I have only closed the door behind myself upon entering her office in the deepest of existential despairs, which she pulled me out of repeatedly, at least chin high, with optimistic theorizing and cold logic. She supported me in pursuing all kinds of features with writers—weird, deeply weird, esoteric, problematic, problem-causing. She appreciated the monster drafts I was struggling with to be printed out on paper and added to her haphazard desk-piles of other paper, after which, with a few near-impossible-to-decipher scribbles, she would tear up the entire structure, eradicate bulk, point to the blood, and build it back together again as a fully functional feature. She is painfully direct and truly powerful. She gives life-changing chances to wild cards. She makes me feel like it is still ok to listen to a lot of Nine Inch Nails.
As much as I would gladly usurp the now vacant role of Gizmodo’s resident goth witch, I dare not attempt to replace any part of Kelly or supplant the incorrigible void of her presence. Good luck to us all.
Ed Cara, Science Reporter at Gizmodo
The witching hour has come and gone, and we’re all worse off for it.
Shannon Melero, Staff Writer at Jezebel
I actually had no idea Kelly was an editor in chief until just recently. I was under the impression she was a fashion model hired to roam the halls of our offices to inspire everyone to dress better. It worked. One time Kelly wore a skirt to work so I also wore a skirt to work. I hope she got a commission for that.
Rae Paoletta, Former Space Writer at Gizmodo
I’ll never forget Kelly’s commitment to her aesthetic, which she once described as a “bag she found on the ground.” She also encouraged me to eat a bite of a taco from Taco Bell for the first time. I regretted it, but she’s a wonderful person and will be sorely missed at Giz.
James Whitbrook, News Editor at io9
I am a relatively anxious person by nature, so every time Kelly slacked me for something I inevitably feared that This Was It, I had finally fucked something up enough to be fired. It gave her an aura beyond her inherent goth-witch vibes that filled me with existential dread every time “Have you got a minute?” popped up in the corner of my computer screen.
One time, she opened up a slack DM with me and another colleague, Germain. “Hello to you two,” it began. My heart sank. What had done both of us in? What was about to happen? I stared at it for a couple seconds longer than I should, my stomach filled with knots.
What was actually happening was that Kelly was going to Disneyland. She wanted tips and tricks from a couple of dorks who’d already been to the Star Wars land to see if it was worth getting her own lightsaber. After breathing a mental sigh of relief, we giddly told her like the dorks we are that it absolutely was.
Turns out, we were right.
Jody Serrano, Gizmodo Weekend Editor at Gizmodo
Dearest Kelly, although we didn’t work together much, I’ve always admired you because I knew you would always fight for your team. That’s why I can honestly say that it’s hard to imagine Gizmodo without you. You have been one of its pillars, and you have undoubtedly left your mark. Thank you for giving me chance to be a part of this. You leave behind a crowd of fans, including myself, and a crowd of people who want you to do well and be happy. You deserve it.
Hudson “Knifedog” Hongo, Culture Editor at Gizmodo
Most know Kelly as Gizmodo’s goth-in-chief, an editor who seems to exclusively watch Canadian TV shows about dentists in bowler hats. During her years here, I had the pleasure of getting to know someone far more complex, best illustrated by her many contradictions. One of the only people at this website who doesn’t dress like they’re sponsored by seasonal depression, Kelly maintained a shockingly filthy office, beaming with sick pride as she showed off the mold children growing in her dozens of coffee cups. Outwardly annoyed by my blog posts, she would touchingly give me almost hourly updates on the video games she was playing. And while building up one of the best science news desks anywhere, she 100 percent believes in ghosts. Kelly was also my boss? This seemed to involve yelling “IDIOT!” after getting off long phone calls, but the exact nature of her job (like the fate of the other 28 refineries) remains a mystery to me. All I know is she greenlit every dumb idea we ever had—and defended them with complete conviction afterwards. I think this reflects worse on her than us.
Dharna Noor, Staff Writer at Earther
Kelly, I feel personally offended that you’re leaving before I really ever got to work with you, but thank you for being so warm and welcoming. Excited to see what you do at your next thing.
Kate Conger, Reporter at The New York Times
In preparation for this roast, I went back through my emails, texts, and screenshots to look for embarrassing dirt on Kelly. But, like a truly wise boss, it appears that Kelly never said a single thing to me in writing until after I stopped working for her.
So here are some things that I remember about Kelly, despite her best efforts to leave no trace:
One time we rode the subway on an absolutely sweltering day in mid-May. Breathing the air felt like gnawing a wet rag. Kelly did not sweat at all. This proves to me that she believes so fervently in ghosts because she is one.
Kelly’s magical skill as an editor was allowing all of us to abuse her placidness in order to get good scoops. When I called her at 3 a.m. and asked her to write down a tip I had gotten, she did not fire me. We got the scoop. When I called her on the weekend, from the wilderness, and asked her to help transcribe a certain 10-page document because I couldn’t find wi-fi, she did it. We got the scoop. When Dell slept all day for the thousandth day in the row and we couldn’t file a story on time, she did not fire Dell either, and we eventually got the scoop.
Kelly took the reins of Gizmodo shortly after it was supposed to die, euthanized by toothless new owners who wanted to turn it into just another, nicer, tech blog. She, alongside our dad Ted Gizmodo, managed to prevent that from happening for four whole years. I hope her new father, Zuck Jeffer, lets her haunt his website for a long time.
Megan Greenwell, former EIC of Deadspin, Editor of WIRED.com
Kelly is a great journalist who dresses intimidatingly well, and seeing her compulsively Juuling at her desk was always oddly comforting to me. She also prompted this very spirited debate in (ex-) Deadspin Slack last week, which made me laugh very hard and for which I am grateful.
Joyce Tang, former GMG Executive Managing Editor
Kelly is frighteningly talented and smart, but her most impressive attribute is her endurance and dedication. I once witnessed a marathon session of her advocating for a well-deserved promotion for someone on her team. The conversation wasn’t going anywhere, though certainly not for lack of persuasion and supporting data on Kelly’s part. Any sane person (e.g., me) would have gotten exhausted and given up. After what felt like hours, I had to leave because it was like watching someone on a hamster wheel. Also, the sun was setting. I assumed we would have to accept losing a very talented writer, which is of course not unheard of. But the next day I found out that Kelly had persevered and the promotion was approved. I don’t even know how many more hours Kelly had to spend convincing the powers that be, but very few people have her indefatigable ability to fight tooth and nail for what they think is right. This has probably been a boon and equally infuriating to anyone who has worked with or for Kelly, who clearly never takes “no” for an answer (rude!) and probably never loses an argument. Good luck to anyone in her way!
Kaitlyn Jakola, Managing Editor at Gizmodo
When I first went to meet Kelly, I asked two people who knew her what to expect. One person said she was intimidating; the other said she was incredible. Turns out they were both right! Kelly is a force of nature, and yet also so thoughtful and caring. I’m mad she’s leaving for the most selfish reason: I wanted to work for her, because everybody else told me how much they loved working for her. I wanted a cool boss! But I guess I understand why she has to go, and mostly, I’m grateful that she brought me onto the team before leaving. Thanks, Kelly, for making this an amazing place. We’ll miss you.
Katharine Trendacosta, former Managing Editor of io9, current lead policy analyst at EFF
Kelly joined this company at one of the worst moments, morale-wise, we’d ever seen. And somehow, it did not improve from there. Coincidence? Well, no, but also not Kelly’s fault. Probably.
I think what I’ll remember most about Kelly was the way she sat at her removed-from-the-rest-of-us EIC desk, vaping, and occasionally giving us a signature dropped jaw look of shock and concern. This was the correct response, but also proof that she was too cool for us.
When I left, Kelly was unable to come to my goodbye party, since she was going to be out of town. So she left me a card with her ranking of Marvel movies. Her grasp of what counted as a Marvel movie at the time was…confused but nothing was more confusing than her putting Thor at #1. And ranking Hulk above Iron Man. She just put that on my desk and left before she could be forced to defend it. So I’m sharing the whole ranking here, to return the favor.
Alex Cranz, Senior Consumer Tech Editor at Gizmodo
Kelly is a tireless advocate for her team and a dike against so much bullshit we would have otherwise had to put up with so we don’t talk about the times she sucked on empty Juul pods to get the last bit of nicotine out, or the time she tried to tell me I could pull off sack dresses too or the time she carefully explained that a ghost cat almost killed her.
But most importantly Kelly hates GIFs and painstakingly removed every good slackbot related to them and has repeatedly said she would fire me if these specific GIFs ever made it on Gizmodo.com and I’m 98% sure she no longer has the power to fire me. So…eat shit. Gizmodo forever.
Dhruv Mehrotra, computer boy
During my brief time at this company I’ve been shuffled around from doomed desk to doomed desk…I’m grateful Kelly put an end to all that by bringing me into the giz team. I’m really sad that she’s leaving us…while I’ve never heard of “cnn” I’m sure she’ll do great there.
Rhett Jones, News Editor at Gizmodo
I had been toiling away in isolation as the nights and weekends editor for a few months when Kelly was first hired to take over as the EIC of Gizmodo. When you work nights, you’re pretty much on your own and you spend a lot of time guessing about the dynamics of the company at large. I didn’t really know what to make of Kelly but over the course of our first get-to-know-ya conversation on the phone, I decided that she seemed very professional. Professional in a probing, let’s find the weaknesses and make a game plan kind of way. Professional in a way that might just be fine but also might be an uncomfortable fit for Giz.
The next time I talked to Kelly was a few days later. This time we were chatting in our more natural environment, Slack. I don’t remember the topic of discussion, I’m sure it was something to do with what I intended to write about that night and we started talking about animals. I expressed my aversion to hairless cats and wariness about the people who own them. *Ahem* she slacked. She sent a photo of herself sitting up in bed, laptop in lap, arms positioned as if raising an invisible cape that has been lifted to reveal a monstrous hairless cat lounging on either side of her.
Three years have passed, and Kelly has promoted me to new positions on two different occasions since then. She’s been the best boss I could ask for and I think my first two impressions of her have proven to be extraordinarily on the nose. She’s a consummate professional and she’s extremely weird. She recognized early that keeping Gizmodo weird is as important as anything else we do, and she’s worked tirelessly to ensure it remains one of our top priorities. I can’t thank her enough for that, she will be missed.
Maddie Stone, Former Managing Editor of Earther
Kelly is that cool kid you always want to impress, but every time you get up to the courage to speak in her presence you sound like a troglodyte. She can slay you with a soft “mmmhmm” after you’ve spent five minutes bloviating about your new idea. She can make you positively giddy by complimenting your nails in the hallway or offering up an unexpected skincare tip.
I’m making Kelly sound like Regina George, but I swear it’s not like that at all. She’s way too enigmatic; way too sepulchral. Also, Kelly genuinely is one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met, although I would have been terrified to admit it to her.
I am more tolerant of astrology because of Kelly. I am fascinated by Victorian medicine because of Kelly. Nobody really talks about it, but Kelly is the reason Earther exists. I want people to remember that.
Dodai Stewart, formerly Jezebel, Fusion, Splinter, currently New York Times ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Best of luck to Kelly and her impeccable black on black wardrobe!
Erik Shilling, News Editor at Jalopnik
One time I went into Kelly’s office and there was a kombucha culture growing, an extraordinary amount of used Juul pods collected in a bag, and a rubber Sonic the Hedgehog mask. None of these items were ever adequately explained.
Sidney Fussell, Senior Business Writer at WIRED
From the first time Kelly swept into the Gizmodo offices in her floor length geisha robe the color of midnight, I knew things were about to change. Very quickly after her arrival, the site’s coverage became more focused, scoops started dominating Chartbeat regularly, and a mysterious flock of ravens occasionally encircled the building. Even as the site grew and corporate strife interfered, Kelly always took the time to connect with me and supported my coverage, from machine learning to skincare regiments to Killing Eve and Silicon Valley surveillance. She was always an incredibly receptive listener, a badass EIC, and a real, rocksteady mentor.
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel
Kelly is virtually unroastable, which is in in itself, perhaps, a roast: She is very solid, smart and sensible; wears extremely cool jewelry of which I’m always envious; and as a colleague and person, always stands up for what is right. This leads me to believe that there is some secret life she is leading none of us know about: Espionage, or mafia, or—well no, she’s definitely not a serial killer, but I could see her being a cool assassin like in Killing Eve. (She also used to be a bottle server, I’m told, which is pretty cool and probably has its own trove of dark secrets.) I’ll miss her dearly despite the basement of taxidermy she might be harboring, and hope that in the future, she will tell me one single roastable thing about her, because what the hell, man.
Michael Ballaban, Former Jalop, Kelly will be his boss at CNN
Kelly is extremely brilliant and extremely kind. Anyone who says anything in that vein is absolutely correct and truthful. It is a terrifying mixture, and I am thankful I will never have to encounter her again.
Caitlin McGarry, Consumer Technology Editor at Gizmodo
I can’t roast Kelly, because we haven’t known each other that long and it would be rude. But, Kelly, I’m glad we had dinner and a car ride together in LA before the global pandemic shut down travel between our coasts. Thanks for hiring me, and for protecting us from the fuckery that abounds in our industry. You’re a real one. Best of luck in your new role at Vice!
Beth Elderkin, Editor (Video) and Staff Writer at io9
The cards didn’t predict this, Kelly, therefore it’s not happening. See you Monday!
Cheryl Eddy, News Editor at io9
Though I only got to meet Kelly in person once, I always appreciated her continued support of my horror movie obsession, especially considering she is not a horror fan. (Refer to the excellent video in which she watched Halloween for the first time ever, live on camera, for proof of this.)
Victor Jeffreys II, Legend
YOU ARE THE BEST!
You let me post my naked selfies on Gizmodo.com, you let me host io9’s bday party, you ALWAYS bring a fabulous look, and you have never been stingy with your JUUL. I am so so so so excited for you to work for an organization that has a competent leader. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for everything! HUG!
Catie Keck, Staff Reporter at Gizmodo
One of the things I feel most grateful for since joining Gizmodo—less than two years or roughly four decades ago—is working for truly brilliant people who are as naturally gifted as leaders as they are at keeping a newsroom humming. Kelly is one of these people. I will forever be grateful to her for giving me the job of a lifetime as a staff reporter at this insane place.
I did not work with Kelly for long in our old office near Union Square, which had an open layout. If I had, I might have been more familiar with Kelly’s infamous Mug Habit, which I’ll allow others here to describe in fuller, filthier detail. As Kelly has promised to hex anyone who roasts her too hard, I’ll say instead: Kelly I wish you all the best, and you will be incredibly missed here.
Adam Clark Estes, Deputy Editor, Recode at Vox
At some point, probably years ago, Kelly found out that I grew up just a few miles from Dolly Parton’s home town. This is an important part of my identity, which Kelly immediately understood. So Kelly, who is a Dolly Parton fan herself, would send me updates about Dolly, sometimes before I’d heard about them myself! It was a truly wonderful day when she told me that my local movie theater would sometimes screen Dolly Parton movies on the weekends and include a small concert by a Dolly Parton tribute band. I went one time, and I think about the experience on a daily basis.
Kelly is an excellent editor and an admirable leader. I could say so much about how it’s a privilege to work with her and a joy to call her a friend. But actually, it’s her love and appreciation for Dolly Parton that everyone needs to know about. It made Gizmodo a better blog. I can’t wait to see how she spreads her Dolly standom around the world in her future endeavors.
Christina Warren, Former Senior Writer at Gizmodo, Now Microsoft
When Kelly walked into the Gizmodo pod for the first time, all eleven feet fall and wearing some sort of black jacket—my immediate impression was that she was too cool for us. Gizmodo, you must understand, is full of total nerds and dorks. None of us are cool.
Kelly then proceeded to vape incessantly in the office, proving once again, that she was too cool for us all.
If Gizmodo had hired a less-badass editor-in-chief, I might still be working at Gawker Media/GMG/G/O Media or whatever some herb has decided it’s called this week. Instead, I left for the bowels of Big Tech, where I assure you, no one is cool.
But in all seriousness, Kelly is a tremendous editor and leader. I’ve been so proud to watch Gizmodo over the last three years under her tutelage. Gizmodo is still the first thing I read every day and knowing how hard Kelly has worked to support the staff in the midst of so much turmoil and uncertainty makes me glad I know her.
She walked into Gizmodo in the midst of change and chaos and not only navigated the storm but really pushed the staff and the publication to be their best. A lesser person would’ve failed, where Kelly succeeded.
I’ve also discovered that although Kelly is much cooler than I will ever be, she’s still a giant nerd. She’s still too cool for those CNN plebes tho.
Dell Cameron, Senior Reporter at Gizmodo
I had this long, touching comment written somewhere I was going to submit, but I think I might’ve deleted it by accident like so many half written blogs over the years. It doesn’t matter. I remember when Kelly called me three years ago and offered me this opportunity to work for her. Frankly, I didn’t think I deserved it. Kelly convinced me to say yes anyway. Confidence is one of the many gifts she’s given me over the years. The truth is, without Kelly, none of us would probably be here. She steered us through all kinds of storms. She saved many of our jobs, I have no doubt about that. When things got really cold and miserable, she was the glue that held us together. It’s going to be a challenge to do this every day without her, but I know there’s nothing we can’t handle, thanks to her. She’ll always be a part of this crew.