After four years of dispatching fashion news with her signature biting humor, Amy Odell is leaving The Cut. She's been poached by BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, WWD reported this morning. She'll run a vertical geared towards women that is set to launch in March. We spoke with both Odell and Smith to get the scoop on the new venture.
We've been reading The Cut for years and can't really imagine it without her, though Odell assures us the site will "still be great. There are so many great people working there."
Odell has such a distinct voice, which we'll look forward to continuing to read over at BuzzFeed, though in what capacity we're not entirely sure. “It's going to be a women's interest site [and] fashion is going to figure in but it's not going to be the only thing,” Odell told us. “It's going to be something that's in my voice and my taste--not even my taste in terms of fashion but in terms of things we cover."
"We haven't ironed out all the details," BuzzFeed's editor-in-chief Ben Smith told us over the phone. "[But] Amy is going to have a big role in defining it. It's really going to be built around her voice."
If this seems like some pretty big news to drop in the midst of Fashion Week, it is. Odell is waiting until New York Fashion Week is over before she makes the move, and will remain at The Cut for two more weeks. She also tweeted this morning: "Thanks everyone for the congrats! Super excited for @BuzzFeed vertical to launch. But first, the beast that is Fashion Week..." However, her departure will take place right around the beginning of Milan.
Also, if this seems like a random move on BuzzFeed's part, well, you need to get to know the "new" BuzzFeed. Odell is the latest in a string of new hires the site has been making as part of its plans for expansion. Since December, they've hired EIC Smith, Doree Shafrir as executive editor and Gizmodo veteran Mat Buchanan as head of the site's new tech vertical, in an attempt to, according to the New York Times, "[grow] some serious news muscles under a silly, frilly skin." So far it's working.
"I think what [Buzzfeed] is doing with online journalism is really interesting," Odell told us. "They're taking a new approach and focusing more on social media, instead of SEO, which is what most [sites] seem to be fixated on right now."
"[We're] working off the reality that increasingly traffic is shifting from search tools to social media," Smith told us. "So as opposed to people searching for something and clicking on it, people [are increasingly] clicking on things that their friends share on Facebook and on Twitter."
"There's no real trick to it, except for making content that people want to share," he added. "Whereas with SEO, there can be tricks."
Odell will also be in charge of hiring a team to work under her at the new vertical and that means the Buzzfeed team will be expanding even more soon. "I definitely want great writers, people who want to create something that's fun and smart and funny, people who are very creative," she told us. "People who have strong voices, people who read everything all the time, watch a lot of TV. A really well-rounded, smart, ambitious writer."
As for their growing reputation as poachers, Smith says, "We're really proud that people from great places [like New York Magazine and Gawker] want to come work for us."