Salon (website)

Type of site
News website
Available in English
Owner Salon Media Group Inc.
Created by David Talbot
Editor Pete Catapano and Alex Bhattacharji
Alexa rank Decrease 2,130 (November 2016)[1]
Commercial Yes
Registration Optional
Launched April 18, 1995 (1995-04-18)[2]
Current status Online
OCLC 43916723

Salon is a progressive/liberal website created by David Talbot in 1995 and part of Salon Media Group (OTCQB: SLNM). It focuses on U.S. politics and current affairs.

Salon's headquarters is located at 870 Market Street San Francisco, California.[3] As of June 2013, its editor-in-chief is David Daley, after previous editor-in-chief Kerry Lauerman stepped down to partner with Larer Ventures on a new startup.[4][5] Lauerman's predecessor Joan Walsh stepped down from that position in November 2010 but remained as editor at large.[6]

Content and coverage

Salon magazine covers a variety of topics. These include reviews and articles about books, films, and music;[7] articles about "modern life", including friendships, human sexual behavior, and relationships; and reviews and articles about technology, with a particular focus on the free software/open source movement.

According to the senior contributing writer for the American Journalism Review, Paul Farhi, Salon offers "provocative (if predictably liberal) political commentary and lots of sex".[8]

In 2008, Salon launched the interactive initiative Open Salon, a social content site/blog network for its readers. Originally a curated site with some of its content being featured on Salon, it fell into editorial neglect and was closed in March 2015.[9]

Responding to the question, "How far do you go with the tabloid sensibility to get readers?", former editor-in-chief David Talbot said:

Is Salon more tabloid-like? Yeah, we've made no secret of that. I've said all along that our formula here is that we're a smart tabloid. If by tabloid what you mean is you're trying to reach a popular audience, trying to write topics that are viscerally important to a readership, whether it's the story about the mother in Houston who drowned her five children or the story on the missing intern in Washington, Chandra Levy.[10]

Staff and contributors

Alex Pareene, who wrote about politics for Salon, in New York in 2012

Regular contributors include the political-opinion writers Amanda Marcotte, Scott Eric Kaufman, Heather Digby Parton, and Sean Illing, critic Andrew O'Hehir; pop-culture columnist Mary Elizabeth Williams.

David Talbot founded Salon and became its original editor-in-chief. He has served several stints as CEO,[11] most recently replacing Richard Gingras who left to join Google as head of news products in July 2011.[12] As of May, 2016, the company's CEO is Jordan Hoffner.[13]


Salon was created by former San Francisco Examiner staff who had departed the newspaper seeking to explore the potential of the Web,[14] especially in the wake of the newspaper strike that had occurred in November 1994.[15] The magazine was founded by the Examiner's former arts and features editor David Talbot[14] and launched in November 1995. In its early days readers noticed a specifically Northern California flavor. In an interview in 1996, Talbott agreed: "'We swim in the soup of San Francisco. There are a lot of odd fish we've plucked out of the Bay here, and it gives us some of that Left Coast, Weird Coast style.'"[16] Time magazine named it one of the "Best Web Site of 1996".[17]

Salon purchased the virtual community The WELL in April 1999, and made its initial public offering of on the NASDAQ stock exchange on June 22 of that year.

Salon Premium, a pay-to-view (online) content subscription was introduced on April 25, 2001. The service signed over 130,000 subscribers and staved off discontinuation of services. However, less than two years later, in November 2002, the company announced it had accumulated cash and non-cash losses of $80 million, and by February 2003 it was having difficulty paying its rent, and made an appeal for donations to keep the company running.

Front-page design in 2006

On October 9, 2003, Michael O'Donnell, the chief executive and president of Salon Media Group, said he was leaving the company after seven years because it was "time for a change". When he left, had accrued $83.6 million in losses since its inception, and its stock traded for 5¢ on the OTC Bulletin Board. David Talbot, Salon's chairman and editor-in-chief at the time, became the new chief executive. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hambrecht, then Salon's chief financial officer, became the president.

In July 2008, Salon launched Open Salon, a "social content site" and "curated blog network".[18] It was nominated for a 2009 National Magazine Award.[19] in the category "best interactive feature". On March 9, 2015, Salon announced it would be closing Open Salon after six years of hosting a community of writers and bloggers.[9]

On June 10, 2011, Salon closed its online chat board Table Talk without stating an official reason for ending that section of the site.[20]

On July 16, 2012, Salon announced that it will be featuring content from Mondoweiss.[21]

In September 2012, Salon Media Group sold The WELL to the group of members.[22]

Business model and operations

Salon has been unprofitable through its entire history. Since 2007, the company has been dependent on ongoing cash injections from board Chairman John Warnock and William Hambrecht, father of former Salon CEO Elizabeth Hambrecht. During the nine months ended December 31, 2012, these cash contributions amounted to $3.4 million, compared to revenue in the same period of $2.7 million.[23]

Aspects of the site offerings, ordered by advancing date:


  1. " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  2. " WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  4. Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (June 5, 2013). "Kerry Lauerman is Leaving Salon, Dave Daley Named Interim Editor in Chief". The New York Observer.
  5. Marr, Dave (February 19, 2014). "Salon editor David Daley first Willson-Grady Digital Media Fellow". Grady College.
  6. Walsh, Joan (8 November 2010). "I'm not leaving Salon!". Salon. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  7. "About Salon". Salon.
  8. Farhi, Paul (March 2001). "Can Salon Make It?". American Journalism Review. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  9. 1 2 Open Salon Staff (March 10, 2015). "News about Open Salon". Open Salon.
  10. "Interview with's David Talbot". June 2001. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
  11. 1 2 Calderone, Michael (September 27, 2011). "Salon CEO Calls For 'American Spring' With Site's Relaunch". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  12. "Form 8-K, Salon Media Group, Inc.". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  13. Sutton, Kelsey (May 31, 2016). "Incoming Salon CEO signals big changes ahead". Politico.
  14. 1 2 Herhold, Scott (December 28, 1997). "Net magazine Salon epitomizes fate of mind over matter". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on February 21, 1999. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  15. Pogash, Carol (1996-06-01). "Cyberspace Journalism". American Journalism Review. Archived from the original on December 28, 1996. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  16. Adam Begley, "Reading Bytes," San Francisco magazine [formerly San Francisco Focus], October 1997, p. 128.
  17. "The Best Web Sites of 1996". Time. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  18. Lauerman, Kerry (July 28, 2008). "Welcome to our public beta". Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  19. Lauerman, Kerry (March 18, 2009). "Congratulations! You've just been nominated...". Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  20. Williams, Mary Elizabeth (2011-06-10). "Au revoir, Table Talk". Salon.
  21. "Mondoweiss". Salon.
  22. "Salon Media Group Sells The WELL to The Well Group" (PDF).
  23. "Form 10-Q, Salon Media Group, Inc.". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
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