AOL wants to change the stereotype that working in tech is a man’s job — and it’s partnered with nonprofit organization Girls Who Code to do it. For the relaunch of AOL’s celebrity-centric Millennial platform Cambio this October, Susan Lyne, chief executive officer of the company’s branded properties, turned to five Girls Who Code alums to help create the new site.
“We’ve been until now strictly celebrity and entertainment news and that’s a fairly commoditized area, so we thought about where we needed to take Cambio,” Lyne said of teaming up with the five Girls Who Code interns and turning Cambio’s New York office into a laboratory at last week’s AOL’s Build Series’ #BuiltByGirls panel. “This doesn’t mean that there won’t be lots of good celebrity gossip, but these girls are multifaceted. [The new site will cover] fashion, beauty, life — teenage girl life and what’s important to them.”
This story first appeared in the August 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Girls Who Code was founded by Reshma Saujani in 2012 in an attempt to teach one million girls to code by 2020. Lily Yuan, Michelle Polton-Simon, Natasha Driver, Nikki Allen and Roxy Banik spent the summer rebuilding Cambio, which sees 7.5 million unique views a month from a predominantly 13- to 24-year-old audience.
“Girls Who Code are powering the site — it’s their lab,” said Nisha Dua, general manager of Cambio, who moderated the panel. She asked the girls questions about coding, what they learned this summer and what the biggest misconceptions about teenage girls today are. In addition to revamping the site’s editorial mission, Dua oversaw the building of two new products — an inspirational quote “meme” generator and a platform that allows readers to contribute.
“There is this whole audience — millions who are re-tumbling these memes and inspirational quotes. We saw a lot of success with memes on Facebook as part of a different way to reach the audience,” Dua said.
The group of women will be encouraged to keep writing for the site throughout the year, as well as encourage their friends to do the same.
And who knows — maybe one of them will be the next Emily White. Arguably one of the most well-known women in tech, Snapchat’s chief operating officer attended the panel last week. After a stint at a start-up in 2000, she started at Google in 2001 and moved to Facebook, where she eventually became Instagram’s chief operating officer before joining Snapchat in December.
“I’m from the Bay Area so I got a level of exposure that most people didn’t,” White said of getting into the tech space. “It was part of my growing up. I came home [from college] and I interned at a law firm that was working with tech companies.”