It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. 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.
So it seems fitting to me that I’ll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I’ll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit.
I didn’t make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn’t prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I’m ready for something new.
Over my career, I’ve reinvented myself numerous times. I covered the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA. I wrote about labor wars, trade wars, and real wars. I chronicled a nuclear plant meltdown and the defeat of communism. I co-founded a couple of media businesses.
And, in the best professional decision of my life, I converted myself into a tech columnist in 1991. As a result, I got to bear witness to a historic parade of exciting, revolutionary innovation — from slow, clumsy, ancient PCs to sleek, speedy smartphones; from CompuServe and early AOL to the mobile web, apps, and social media. My column has run weekly in a variety of places over the years, most recently on The Verge and Recode under the Vox Media umbrella, where I’ve been quite happy and have added a podcast of which I’m proud.
So I see retirement as just another of these reinventions, another chance to do new things and be a new version of myself.
I will likely write a bit more about this before I stop. But, for now, I just want to thank you for reading, viewing, and listening to me over the years, and for letting me know when you thought me right or crazy.
I want to thank Vox Media, The Verge, Recode, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC for giving me a voice. And, to name just a few individuals, I want to thank some indispensable career partners along the way: Kara Swisher, Norm Pearlstine, Paul Steiger, Larry O’Donnell, Jim Bankoff, Nilay Patel, Lia Lorenzano-Kennett, Stephanie Capparell, and Katie Boehret.
I’m not going anywhere for a while, so you’ll still be seeing my columns, TV appearances, and podcasts this month and next. I will enjoy creating every one of them, just as I enjoyed writing those stories from Detroit in 1970.
Editor’s note: Here’s a short note from Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff about Walt’s retirement.