Walt Mossberg begins his note announcing his retirement with a memory of where it all began. “It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist,” he writes in both Recode and The Verge. “I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That’s not a typo.”
His official retirement date will come in June, after the 2017 Code Conference, which he cofounded, and will represent the end of almost five decades of work in journalism. “It just seems like the right time to step away,” he writes. “I’m ready for something new.”
From 1970 until now, Mossberg’s path has been an interesting one. Currently he is executive editor and columnist at The Verge, an editor at large and columnist at Recode and co-host, with Nilay Patel, of Ctrl-Walt-Delete, the podcast the pair launched in Sept. 2015.
Mossberg’s emergence as a tech journalist began in 1991, which he calls “the best professional decision of my life.” Before then, in his many “reinventions,” as he describes them, he had been a labor reporter, covered the Pentagon, was national security correspondent, and spent three years as Washington deputy bureau chief–all at the Wall Street Journal. And it was at the Journal where he made the switch to tech as a columnist, professionalizing what had been a long-held interest of his. Mossberg also started the Wall Street Journal-owned, now defunct tech site allthingsd.com with Kara Swisher in 2007, which was reincarnated as Recode in the beginning of 2014, when Mossberg left the Journal to run it. When it was purchased by Vox Media in 2015, Mossberg stayed on, adding additional roles within the Vox Media empire.
“Walt’s relevance and power wasn’t just that he was the most influential product reviewer in the world of personal technology–a legend–it was that he was the best one. Really, he was the only one that mattered. He wasn’t just judging your work, positive or negative, he was telling the truth about it. Whether you liked it or not, his opinion was fact,” writes Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff in a thank you note to Mossberg, describing a presentation he made to Mossberg when Bankoff was at AOL in the early aughts.
It was a sentiment echoed in a 2007 Ken Auletta profile of Mossberg in The New Yorker. In it, Auletta describes the early successes of AOL, Palm Pilot and blip.tv after garnering positive reviews from Mossberg, something likely owed as much to Mossberg’s stance as a self-described “consumer advocate” as to his authority on the subject of tech.
“Since joining us, your work has been as vital and essential as it has been at any point in your five-decade career,” writes Bankoff in the portion of his note addressed specifically to Mossberg. “I will forever consider it one of my greatest privileges, accomplishments and joys to have worked together and to call you my friend.”