Exclusive - Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin Extended Interview

September 13, 2016 - Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin 09/13/2016 Views: 6,623

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin look back at the founding of theSkimm, their daily email newsletter, and talk about registering new voters in the Skimm the Vote campaign. (7:31)

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Please welcome Danielle Weisbergand Carly Zakin!

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

Welcome to the show.

-Thank you. This is exciting.-Welcome to the show.

This is very exciting.This is more exciting for me.

-No. -I don't know about that.-I don't think

you guys understand. I am sucha huge fan of theSkimm.

-Thank you. -For those...so, for those who don't know,

I mean, I-I guessI would summarize it.

But you could do a better job.What is theSkimm, really?

So, theSkimm is a company thatmakes it easier to be smarter.

That's what we do. Uh, we've gota product that helps you wake up

and feel informed every day.It's a daily newsletter.

First thing in your inbox andlets you know what's going on

-in the world.-Yeah, but it-it seems so simple

and yet so difficultat the same time.

Basically, I wake upevery morning. There's an e-mail

-in my inbox, and... -It'slike we know you're waking up.

-Yes. -Yeah, it's like you know.You do know that I'm waking up.

Well, you're...We're your friend.

-We sound like your friend.-You are my friend. -Yeah, yeah.

We're your virtual friend,but now we're your real friend.

-Yeah, now we're real friends,'cause we're here. -Yeah. Yeah,

and then you...you're my friends who wake me up

-in the morning and then tell methe news. -But it's not creepy.

-Not at all. No, it's like...-So it's okay. -Yeah, it's no...

it's like if your friend...like, you knew they were gonna

come over, and then they just,like, surprise you

-in the morning. So...It's a sleepover, -Yeah.

-and then your friend waits,-Well, it's not really

-and they're like, "Hey...-a sleepover, but...

-It's like... -"Here'swhat's up." -"Here's what's up

-in Syria." That's exactly whatit is. -Yeah. Exactly. -Yes.

-Yeah, minus the sleepover.-Minus the sleepover?

-Yeah.-I feel like it's a sleepover.

-I don't feel that way.-That's how I feel,

-personally. I feel...-Okay. -Okay.

-It feels like a sleepover.-So that's good. We'll take it.

-Thank you. -I feel likeyou've achieved sleepover

-without trying. -That's nice.-That was a first. Thanks.

That's an added bonus. But itreally... it really is amazing.

Congrat-Congratulationson everything you've done.

I mean, you-you were bothworking at MSNBC, weren't you?

-NBC. Yeah, NBC News. -Yeah.-Yeah, and-and then you...

and then you just decidedone day... What was it, 2012?

Yeah, we quit our jobs.

Uh, it was terrifying.

We totally blacked outwhen we quit.

Uh, and we had saved up...

You were also drinking heavilyat the time.

-Yeah. -Exactly. Well, you haveto, like... -Of course.

-...actually quit your job.-Of course. Yes.

Um, and we saved up about $3,000between the two of us.

-Wow. -We also were roommatesat the time, we should say.

-DANIELLE: Yeah. -So, we livenot too far from here, and, uh,

we quit our jobs and justsent out an e-mail

from our living room couch.

So you just woke up and said,

"We're now going to sendeverybody an e-mail

-telling them about the news."-Yes. Well...

That's a really skimmed versionof what happened, but, uh,

our friends are very smartand went to great schools,

and care about the worldaround them,

-but they never watchwhat we produce ever. -Yes.

And every day, we'd say,"What happened today?

What's going on in the world?"

And, in effect,we were skimming for them

for yearswithout calling it that.

And once we realizedmore and more

as people were talking about...

At that time it was a new termto us-- millennial.

We didn't knowwe wer millennials... -Uh-huh.

-...and we literal...-It sneaks up on you.

-Nobody knows. Yeah.-It does. -It does, yeah.

-As you age. It's like, "Oh."-Yes. -We had no idea.

Uh, we Googled, literally,"women 20s to 30s,"

discovered the word"millennial,"

discovered the economic powerbehind it,

realized the businessopportunity in front of us,

and then, we quit.

And for us, I mean,we had no business background.

Didn't know how to use Excel,still aren't great with numbers,

but we've gotten there.

Um, and, you know,we just had this great idea,

and we knewthat our friends would like it,

and we knew how to talkto our audience,

and we knew that we were youngenough to start something, so...

Well, you say you aren't greatwith numbers,

but, I mean, theSkimm hasreached how many millions now?

So, well over threeand a half million people

have a sleepover with us. Uh...

-(laughter) -Things...-That is... that is really...

-That is really powerful.-Yeah.

I mean, the factthat you have that.

Here's what I've been fascinatedby is,

why was there such a needfor this?

Why were so many young females,

young millennial femalesin America

not engaging in the news?

I think we founda few different motivations

of why we took off

and why there was real tractionaround it.

I think for some,they were so busy

-around their specificindustry... -Yeah.

...that they were really, reallywell-versed

in whatever industrythey were in,

but didn't necessarilyhave the time,

and sometimes the interestoutside of that.

And in many ways,we would go to family dinners

or dinnerswith groups of friends,

and we would see who drops outof conversation when.

And the themes that we sawwere there were some people

who weren't as well roundedbecause of time

-and sometimes interest.-Mm-hmm.

Some people just did...never felt that the news

was engaging for them,and some people felt that

the news was actually something

that didn't make them feel goodabout themselves,

either because it was depressingor because...

if they weren't well versedon a topic, you...

if you're reading a newspaperyou'd have to go to A-7

to find outthe context on Syria.

Whereas with theSkimm,we're doing it

in very bite-sized information

that's donein a very conversational way.

We just felt likeyou shouldn't have to go

outside of your routine,what you're already doing

-Yeah. -during the day,to get information.

And there weren't a lotof people that were doing that.

And it was kind of like,oh, if you don't like reading

The New York Times, then, you know,

the news isn't for you.But why?

You know, you can have the news

and you can have it soundin a voice that you like

and a voice thatyou like to wake up with

and still feel informed,and there shouldn't be,

you know, any judgmentaround how people

-like to get information.-Definitely.

What you've also donereally well for me is

you've found a way to growfrom just being "the news"

and just talkingabout the news of the day,

to creating this media company.

Because I rememberwhen I first started out

reading theSkimm, it wasjust bite-sized information,

-it was jokes, it was fun,and it still is that, -Yeah.

it's really light,but then you had Skimm Ahead,

and then you-youstarted initiatives

where you were going,we'll go into your calendar

for the Olympics-- for instance,you had an amazing calendar,

where you kept people in touchwith what was happening,

-Thank you. -so people knewwhat to watch and so on.

And now what's even morefantastic is you've got

Skimm the Vote, and that'sreally, really exciting.

Yeah. Thank you so much.So we launched

our No Excuses campaignthis week.

There are no excusesnot to register,

-and not to get out thereand vote. -Definitely.

That's what our campaignis all about.

We've already registered 25,000people through our partnership

-with Rock the Vote.-That's phenomenal.

-(whooping, applause)-How... what...

It's-it's interesting thatyou've gone with "no excuses"

because, like, what arethe excuses people have?

-Like, what do people... You-youtalk to so many... -Yeah.

Three and a half millionactive readers

of your-of your newsletter...What do people say

when they say,"Oh, I'm not registered"

-or "Oh, I'm not gonna vote."-You know...

What-what are the excuses?

"I don't like the choices."

"I don't knowif I'm registered."

"I don't know how to register."

My favorite, though,is that "it takes too long."

Um, it takes about,on average, 15 minutes to vote.

And we all spend about an houreach day on Facebook, so...

-Put some thought behind that.-Cut that down a little bit

-and go vote. -Yeah.-So we should get Facebook

-to register people to vote.-Yes. -Yes.

-I think we've stumbled ona genius thing here. -We have.

I think if Facebook would liketo partner with us on that...

-Yes, Facebook, we're readyfor you. -This is genius, yeah.

Just put it in people's feedand then make it like a...

make it likeone of those little polls

-that you just do by yourself,like, uh... -Yeah, "who wins?"

You know, which are you--A, a voter or B, unregister...

-And then people justregister to vote. -Yeah. -Yeah.

-Change relationship status.-This is genius.

We've just thought a newFa-Facebook-Skimm-

-Trevor Dai-Daily Show companyname. -We fixed the country.

-Done. -We'll work on the name,we'll work on the name.

-But I think we've gotsomething going here. -Yeah.

What's-what'sthe long-term goal--

where do you go from here?It starts off small,

it's-it's already growing,you've got investors.

I mean, you've got-you've got,uh, I think it's, uh,

the Fox Corporation who is,uh... Who are you

-working with now?-21st Century Fox

-is spending some money. Yeah.-Yes, 21st Century Fox.

You're making... you're gonna bemaking shows soon.

Where-where does itgo from here?

So for us, our company,our mission is-is very focused,

in that theSkimm makes it easierto be smarter,

and our goal is to be in allof the routines that you have.

Every time you literally--I wish I had a phone here--

but every time you head tothe home screen on your phone,

we want to be a part of thatroutine. So as you said,

-we're in your inboxevery morning. -Yeah.

We're now in your calendarsif you want us to be.

And soon there's a lot moreplatforms to come.

But we're just getting started.

-Yeah, more sleepovers.-Exactly.

-Yeah. -I love it. Thank youso much for being here.

-Thank you for having us.-I'm a huge fan of what you do.

-Thank you so much. -Thank youso much for everything.

Amazing, amazing effort,you got to get out there.

To register to vote, get infoand issues on the candidates

and to sign up forthe Daily Skimm newsletter,

just go to theSkimm.com/vote.

I promise youyou will not regret it.

Uh, Danielle Weisbergand Carly Zakin, everybody.

We'll be right back.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)