CHART: THIS is a Chart That Screams for Pure Pay-for-Performance…

Business Insider reports that one of Gawker Media's writers, Neetzan Zimmerman, is leaving Gawker Media to work at social media startup Whisper

Here's why I wanted to share that seemingly meaningless voluntary termination with you.  Zimmerman may have the biggest case for an extreme view of pay for performance I've ever seen.  Zimmerman Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 8.52.35 AMprimarily wrote at, one of 15 or 16 writers.  As one of those 15 or 16 primary writers of online articles at, he was responsible for 99% of Gawker's traffic.

Let that soak in a bit.  16 writers, one guy responsible for 99% of the results in a department.


If there's ever been a case for crazy, "you're the best and the others are ####" pay for performance, it's Zimmerman.  Look at the chart to the right and ask yourself the following question.  Let's say you've got 1 million in salary budget for 16 writers and you brought Zimmerman in at 70K, just like you did most people.  Then, the results you see on the right happened.  How would you have reallocated that salary bucket to take care of Zimmerman?

PS - Zimmerman is the light green shading that dominates the traffic generated via his posts vs his peers.

My take is pretty simple.  If Zimms is creating 99% of the value, then I'm cutting staff to get him paid and stay within the 1M in salary.  I'm dropping this team to 10 - quick, fast and in a hurry - and giving him up to 400K in bonus for performance.  Have to make it incentive-based so I can look the others in the eye, and still need 9 writers to create volume and diversity for the site, but let's be clear about one thing:

I'm getting him paid.  And no HR pro would stop me.

But he's gone. I wish we knew what the Gawker Media approach was to this unique scenario over the past couple of years.

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