I sold The Babylon Bee about a month ago. I’m no longer running it, but it’s still in good hands. I thought I’d let you all know what, who, and why.
A Christian entrepreneur named Seth Dillon is the new majority owner. My friend Kyle Mann, who has been with the Bee since nearly the very beginning and was head writer since September 2016, has now taken my place as full-time editor and publisher. I am still involved in a more limited capacity and will be for the foreseeable future. I also still own a small piece of the Bee, but I am no longer calling the shots. Also, our first book, How to Be a Perfect Christian, stayed with me; it was not part of the sale.
Why would I sell The Babylon Bee? There are a number of reasons why I came to the conclusion that it was the best option for me. I won’t get into all of them, but I’ll share a few.
1.) I want to focus on the Christian Daily Reporter.
I launched CDR in January and it is such a joy to operate. I have been publishing content for the internet for six years now — full-time for four — and this is the first time I’ve had my own slice of the web that is completely independent of all the gatekeepers we’ve grown so accustomed to. The feeling of having my own playground, instead of playing in others’ playground by their rules, is hard to describe. It’s amazing. CDR continues to grow as people come directly to it because they want to — not because Facebook decided to put a link in their feed, or because Google chose to include it in their search results. It harkens back to a time before the internet was centralized and controlled by a few behemoths (who, by the way, don’t like Christians and don’t like conservatives). Not playing by their rules has allowed me to make a bare-bones web page that has all the functionality of a massive news site. I also recently did my first podcast-style “CDR Talk,” where I blabbed into a mic for 15 minutes about a news topic and then posted it to the site for a couple days. It was fun and I plan on doing it again.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Christian Daily Reporter is a Drudge-Report-style news aggregator which I constantly update to provide a snapshot of what you need to know right now. The collection of stories on CDR you won’t find anywhere else. If you don’t already visit every day, you should.
(Also worth mentioning, since people ask: I know it sounds idealistic, but my long-term plan is for CDR to be supported directly by readers, Lord willing, via my Patreon page. The sale of the Bee is basically subsidizing CDR in the short-term.)
2.) Related: I’ve become super convicted about the large-scale ills of Facebook and Google.
I fully realize that a major reason the Bee (and my webcomic, for that matter) was able to blow up like it did was because of social media — Facebook in particular. This is just how it goes when you make things for the internet: you create, you post to social media, you hope people like it and it spreads. But the power that Facebook held over me as a content creator began to make me very uneasy.
True crime fascinates me, and this is a comparison that often comes to mind: to become a successful content creator you have to use Facebook, and using Facebook, especially if you’re a Christian and/or a conservative, is sort of like going to a mafia loan shark for $10,000. They’re happy to give it to you, just like Facebook will gladly give you the opportunity for your content to go viral on their massive platform. But then, if it does, they own you. You have to conform to their rules and their worldview, and jump through every hoop they put in front of you, if you want to remain a successful content creator. It’s just like a loan from a local mob guy: sure, now you’ve got $10,000 in your hand, but you’re going to pay a high price in return. You’re going to have to alter whatever needs to be altered — even your worldview — to accommodate Facebook. If you miss a payment or step out of line, you’re going to get a beating. And if they ever decide you’re too much trouble, they’ll just shoot you. Facebook has the power to kill publishers, and they do, not only based on publishing techniques, but based on worldview. Just think about that.
This takes us into the bigger and scarier picture, which is that Facebook and Google have a practical duopoly on information. The web is where everyone gets information about everything, and they literally control what information the world sees. I could write a million words on this topic, but I won’t. I cover it regularly on CDR, and the CDR Manifesto speaks on it. Suffice it to say, my worldview combined with my job description gives me a unique vantage point from which to view the current state of things. As a follower of Christ, I am primarily concerned with glorifying God, loving my neighbor, and spreading the gospel. I’ve thought about this deeply and carefully, and I think the centralization of the internet is one of the greatest threats to the spread of the gospel, and the well-being of mankind, that we face today. Maybe the single biggest threat. It is tyranny over information. It’s a handful of people who are hostile to the Christian message and the plight of the individual deciding what’s good and bad, true and false. It’s never been seen before on this scale. I am no conspiracy theorist; never have been. From where I sit, this danger is as clear as day.
All of this is to say nothing about the long-term ramifications of the massive collection of personal data, or the incalculable intrapersonal effects social media is having on us.
Because of all of this, I have founded the Christian Daily Reporter to be a daily source of news and information that lives outside the centralized tech-giant choke-hold, and I am in the process of becoming something of a conscientious objector to Facebook and Google (I’m sure I’ll have more updates on this process in the future). I have come to a place where I no longer feel morally OK being a part of the Facebook and Google machine, and because of their surveillance-capitalism business models, just existing on their platforms makes me a paying customer. How does CDR grow without social media? Not sure; I’m just focusing on making it so good that people want to come back every day.
(By the way, if you follow the news and have seen what’s been happening with Facebook and Google in the months since I launched CDR, hoo boy, you can imagine how justified I am feeling these days.)
3.) I hate the attention that comes with the Bee.
The Bee has become something of a social phenomenon. When I launched it, I had a strong hunch that it would become popular, but I had no idea it would explode to the extent that it did. With that comes, of course, lots of attention. Believe me, I am super grateful for all the nice things people say about the Bee, all the event invitations, all the interview requests. But if you’ve followed me for some time you probably know how averse I am to the spotlight. It makes me very uncomfortable, especially in person. As a general rule I never told people that I ran the Bee, but, you know, people find out. And everywhere I go, it’s all people want to talk about, and I just don’t know how to handle that. I never could get used to it.
4.) The Bee has become way bigger than me.
Running the Bee I was hesitant, for various reasons, to do the things necessary for it to continue growing to new levels. I wanted to publish satire; I didn’t want to run a growing company. I didn’t want to hire people. With the new owner comes resources and aspirations that the Bee has never had before. This is good. As big as the Bee has become, it can be a whole lot bigger, and I know that. I just didn’t want to pursue that route. Even though it was my project, I sometimes felt like I was holding the Bee back.
5.) I want to have time to publish comics again every now and then.
Even with Kyle writing much of the content, the million other things involved in running the Bee, from publishing and social media to tech and business stuff, combined with my OCD-ish tendencies, made it an all-consuming venture. I hardly had time to eat lunch, let alone draw a comic when I wanted to. I miss that. I want to be able to draw comics again when I feel like it. I might even incorporate comics with CDR. But just overall, I’m trying to get back to a place in life where I’m working at a more sustainable pace, and allowing myself at least a little time to do other things that are good for mental and physical health.
It is a bittersweet time for me because I love the Bee with all my heart and realize the importance of what I’m giving up. But I have full confidence that The Babylon Bee will continue to be one of the greatest things on the internet, and you should too. Kyle has been with me since literally a few days after I launched the Bee (it was a God thing), and for a long time now has written the majority of the things you read every day. He was instrumental in shaping the Bee’s voice, from our very early days. That’s why you probably didn’t even notice when he took the reins about a month ago. Seth, the new owner, is a successful businessman who uses his resources for Kingdom purposes. The Bee is in good hands.
Thank you so very much for loving the Bee and making it into what it is today. If you have questions, feel free to email me. I’ll try to reply to many and perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post or CDR Talk.
If you need me, I’ll be over at the Christian Daily Reporter.