Happy Birthday Athletics Nation, SB Nation and Vox Media!

Jed Jacobsohn

Nine years ago, a crazed (and a little crazy) A's fan started this new media juggernaut. And it's been a wild ride.

I interrupt this all-important Election Day (not to mention Halo 4 release day - priorities, people!) to remind you that November 6 also carries a special meaning to me and hopefully to you, as an A's fan as well. Nine years ago today, I started a small typepad site called Athletics Nation: Baseball Country. It was my first attempt at blogging and I enjoyed it right from the start. It was a freedom beyond anything I'd experienced in my young reporting career. I had removed the "veil of objectivity" that had been the norm in sports reporting for years and I was able to just come right out and wear my colors openly without reservation.

It was revolutionary at the time as there were many tech sites that had already done this, as well as political sites. But the tribal aspect to sports had been hit and miss. There were several independent blogs out there, but nothing was covering my team the way I wanted it covered. I took it upon myself to do that. I didn't know if anyone would show up. Or if I'd just have a healthy outlet for an unhealthy obsession. I would actually stay up nights wondering if Eric Chavez would ever become the player I thought he would be. Now I had a place to devote to that obsessive concern. The OCD in me finally had a place to pour out those thoughts.

And behold, it happened. People showed up and they seemed to want the same outlet that I desired. They might not have been crazy about my writing or my perspective but thanks to a "diary" system (now known as FanPosts), people jumped in for that same platform and outlet. Apparently I wasn't the only obsessive-compulsive sports fan out there. Who knew?

Well as many of you know, Vox Media, the fastest-growing online media company, sprung from this very site. An OCD-afflicted, small market-loving, Moneyball-thumping, crazed Oakland Athletics fan started it all. So I sort of like to think about Vox Media as the small-market team going up against some behemoths in the industry that have an entrenched way of doing things and are slow to adapt to market conditions. The beauty is that the "business" part of this was slow to come to fruition. I did this on a part-time basis for a couple of years and really wanted to just get a bunch of passionate, quality writers together to build a stronger and more intelligent, fan-driven media.

Fast-forward nine years later and Vox Media now covers consumer technology in the most incredible way imaginable with The Verge. We cover video games like an online magazine that is dynamic and flexible in real-time on Polygon. And just about a month and a half ago, we upgraded Athletics Nation as well as every other sports site in an amazing and breathtakingly beautiful fashion. All while attempting to maintain that original voice and soul that the company was born with on November 6, 2003. It's been a long and strange trip. Since I started Athletics Nation, my daughter was born and that was announced here. She is now seven years old and is in second grade. I've also moved from Sacramento to a city only about eight miles away from where the A's archenemy plays. I had a son who is just an absolute joy of a child. Every major milestone in my children's lives, from their first steps to first words to first soccer goal, has occurred since I started this company.

And that's amazing to me. Because Vox Media is like another child to me. I've watched it grow up. I've watched it reach every major milestone. Five million page views. My first Billy Beane interview. A million visits in a day. Expanding beyond baseball into college, football, hockey, basketball, soccer, combat sports and nearly every other sport under the sun. Launching a national site to further enhance our position on fan empowerment. Creating our remarkably elastic and flexible platform Chorus with the most talented product team in the business. Embracing a consumer technology brand to expand the passionate and professional coverage. Expanding to bring video coverage through our YouTube work and the excellent work of SB Nation Studios. And most recently, coverage of video games. There have been many, many more.

But the biggest thing that I am thankful for in all of this is the people. I feel so much joy in getting to know the writers, the community members and so many folks involved in our sites that it's enhanced my life in ways beyond belief. We've had people become great friends, going out of their way to travel together, tailgate together and bond together over their common passions. We've even had people pledge everlasting love to one another after meeting through our sites. It's been an amazing nine years of friendship, fun, love and joy. There have been lots of ups, a few downs but it has been the greatest experience a person could ever hope for in their professional career.

And not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for that fact. Thank you AN for being the genesis of it all. And just think a year from now, we'll be celebrating a decade of this. And maybe, hopefully, with some luck and some health for the green and gold in 2013, we'll be celebrating a trophy making a trip across the Bay Bridge.

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