Nick Bilton Turns Down $1.5 Million+ From CBS/CNET, Stays At NY Times

Nick Bilton, the NY Times lead technology writer, may be one of the most heavily recruited tech writers around. He was our number one most desired hire while I was at TechCrunch. And apparently at CNET, too. He turned down an offer from CNET and parent company CBS that would have given him over $1.5 million in total compensation, says a source.

Instead, he elected to stay at the NY Times earning, by my estimate, significantly less than $150,000 per year.

CBS was looking for Bilton to do regular tv bits on technology, and write heavily for CNET, for an annual salary of over $500,000, says the source. In addition, I’ve heard, CBS subsidiary Simon & Schuster was to purchase the rights to his upcoming book to be titled “Owned,” which is about “the end of privacy and ownership.” Bilton’s first book, I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted, will be available in paperback shortly.

But he hasn’t done a book deal around Owned yet. Simon & Schuster, says a source, was going to pay him “seven figures,” or at least $1,000,000, for the book.

A source close to CBS says these figures are wildly inaccurate. A Simon & Schuster deal around Owned was only “a possilibity, not a reality,” says the source. And the total CBS/CNET combined compensation was in the $300,000 per year range, not $500,000+.

Either way, it was quite a potential raise.

Bilton did manage to get a new job at the NY Times out of this, at least. He’ll become a weekly technology and business columnist, and will continue to blog. Last year he wrote some 350 blog posts and about 50 print articles. Now he’ll focus on the weekly column and write only occasionally on the blog, I hear.

I know TechCrunch was also aggressively pursuing Bilton, as was the Huffington Post (perhaps competing with each other, who knows). Other publications were also actively pursuing him as well.

Not bad for a guy who never got a journalism degree, or any other degree. Bilton’s background is in design. And he’s one of the best writers the NY Times has. They’re lucky to have kept him.

51 thoughts on “Nick Bilton Turns Down $1.5 Million+ From CBS/CNET, Stays At NY Times

  1. Ravi Sheth says:

    posting on a sunday? wow lol

  2. So glad, CNET seems to suck in great hosts and writers and stop them voicing their opinions and slaps a generic feel to all of the content. The exact opposite to techcrunch, no matter what anyone thinks of TechCrunch. I think he’d be good at TechCrunch and does well at The New York Times. So i’m happy with him writing for either.

  3. Wow, it’s just more proof that you don’t need a degree to achieve most dreams. College is great, but it’s not the essential ingredient people often market it as.

  4. Jersey J. says:

    Guess who else didn’t get a journalism degree.

  5. So the 1.5 million dollar figure wasn’t really anything?

  6. LeoSaraceni says:

    So.. does the NYT offer enough prestige to justify passing on an extra $150k/year?

  7. Anoop Suri says:

    I know TechCrunch was also aggressively pursuing Bilton, as was the Huffington Post (perhaps competing with each other, who knows).

    The part in parenthesis is what I consider brilliant writing.

  8. GR says:

    I feel like his headshot is trying to glamour me.

  9. Publish Orr-Perish says:

    Simon & Schuster

  10. For some its not all about the money. Bilton probably loves the way he’s living now and loves the Times, I say good for him for finding something he really loves doing.

  11. that’s a great problem to have 🙂

  12. I can’t recall one memorable thing CNET has ever produced. Good on him.

  13. Bilton seems like a personable guy, but I never found him very insightful, and I think his writing tends to be bland. But you’re quite the talent scout and the rest of the world is beating a path to his door; I presume there’s something I’m not seeing. Either that or he’s incredibly good at marketing himself.

  14. He is an excellent writer. I wonder how the change of scenery will affect his insights and perspectives. Regardless, I’ll keep reading.

  15. FF says:

    At NYTimes he gets paid to write for the paper, the 1.5M was a combination of book deal and writing. Not remotely the same.

  16. dave says:

    Ha! He’s a hack. Not a very good one and not very well thought of by many NYT colleagues. His posts are all rehashes if stuff off hacker news. Very little added.

  17. Joe J. says:

    Arrington, you dog! You are always stirring the pot in ways that are sure to upset folks you like tweaking.

    Well played, sir.

  18. Gern Blanstein doesn’t have a degree either.

  19. Maybe he signed a non-compete when he went to work for the NY Times. It isn’t so cut and dried.

  20. Mike – why did TC want him so bad? Style? Flair?

  21. >> Not bad for a guy who never got a journalism degree…

    But in his LinkedIn profile I see that he’s got a degree in Journalism & Documentary Film in New School University.

  22. gubatron says:

    I doubt he makes less than $250k/year, guys like him sell a lot of products and make or destroy companies with their key strokes. If I were him, I wouldn’t settle anywhere for less than $500k/year.

  23. Bobby Harris says:

    CNET has decent talent–both in editorial and on camera. They just clearly have no flippin’ idea how to properly utilize them. Have you seen the CNET TV interface? Ugh.

  24. dantynan says:

    Bilton is OK. never been overly impressed with his stuff.

    but one thing he and the NY Times don’t do is claim someone has been offered $1.5 million in the headline (an insane figure for what you’re describing, by the way) and then admit the actual number is closer to $300K (also a bit extreme but at least in the ballpark). I think it’s time for your invariably unnamed sources to stop sniffing glue.

  25. David says:

    But he definitely has great writing skills but I don’t believe that turning down 1,5 million deal was easy task for him

  26. If you thought the mood at CNET and CBS Interactive was low before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you don’t value your own people, why should those people care about you?

  27. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up
    losing several weeks of hard work due to no data backup.
    Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

  28. I definitely love all of the demanding labor you’ve put into keeping this place here for all of us. I honestly hope this sticks around for a good long time.

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