ted gushue petrolicious

Ted Gushue, former editor of Petrolicious, wants to revolutionise digital media

The independent digital media consultant, and former editor of Petrolicious, explains why platform-native content is the future

He’s had some very, very good jobs, this Ted Gushue. Now living in London, the independent digital media consultant has, at various points in his impressive life, been an executive editor for automotive lifestyle brand Petrolicious, founder of car magazine Supercompressor.com and even a global ambassador for St Moritz (he’s moving there in September). As resumés go, it’s a jealousy-inducing one.

But it was before any of these jobs — although at an equally enviable one — that Gushue first discovered the power of digital media. The year was 2011, and he was working as a nightlife reporter for The New York Observer.

“I’d say that was around the time I really started to understand the digital landscape,” Gushue tells me. “It was transitioning away from print. Meeting every key player in the New York media business was a big part of that job, so I was really exposed to the nitty gritty of it.

“I spent a lot of time hanging with the kids who were running Gawker — which wielded a lot of influence back then — and they really exposed me to the power of digital media. Then, in 2013, I started to witness the rise of Instagram, and the slow demise of web-based platforms. Around that time, I really had to understand what it meant to go platform-native, to go where the eyeballs are.”

By 2015, when Gushue was running his magazine, Supercompressor.com, he first discovered Petrolicious. At the time, he was running a big team of around 16 people out of a New York office, and was enjoying life as part of the Thrillist Media Group. But he noticed that Petrolicious was transcending traditional publishing, making waves across the media landscape, and laying down a blueprint for the future of content. He wanted to learn more.

“I discovered [Petrolicious] for their films in early 2013,” says Gushue, “and then kept a great relationship with them for a few years. Fast forward to 2015 and I’m out in LA for some meetings. The former owner of Petrolicious, Afshin Behnia, took me out to lunch and asked me if I would consider moving to the west coast and take up the reigns of their digital product. A few weeks later I was on a one-way flight to Los Angeles.”

What followed were some of the most jealousy-inducing years of Gushue’s jealousy-inducing career. He himself admits that there are “too many standout moments to count”, but throws a pearler of one my way anyway: driving the 1938 BMW Berlin-Rome Touring Superleggera on the 2016 Mille Miglia. It was, he assures me, as good as it sounds.

But all good things must come to an end. And, in 2017, Gushue left Petrolicious for pastures new. He had learned much about the digital media landscape — and indeed watched it change and evolve around him. So the plan was clear; start up a consulting firm, one that would allow him to focus on multiple projects, multiple clients and keep his mind sharp.

“I’m a bit ADHD in that way,” he explains. “I need lots of stimulus to keep me engaged. Without it, my mind wanders.”

Lockdown, especially, has been a trying time — and Gushue admits that he has sorely missed working with a team. The plan had been to work and live together in a house in Tokyo this year — but the pandemic put paid to that.

“At the end of lockdown in London,” Gushue notes, “I jumped in my 1976 911S — a car my father bought in the early 90s for $5,000 and that has been in our family ever since. I recently had it restored by RUF in Pfaffenhausen. I jumped in that and drove straight to Milan — it was a pretty epic moment. Two cigars along the way.”

And, just as Porsche has given to Gushue, he has also given back to the German carmaker. Producing a ‘daily magazine for those who are driven’ for Porsche is one of the digital media consultant’s current gigs.

“Porsche approached me through an agency in Hamburg one or two months after I left Petrolicious,” he says, “and we began a 16 month procurement process which led to the development of the Type 7 brand, which we launched around the holiday season in 2018.”

Which brings us back to platform-native content. As a trailblazer in the world of digital media, Gushue has watched publications and lifestyle brands succeed or fail depending on the platform they choose to build on. And, if he had one commandment, it would be to abandon simple, straightforward websites — and start creating content specific to your chosen platform.

“A lot of people in media still don’t quite understand that concept,” Gushue adds. “It’s so elemental to me, but there are multi-million dollar content businesses out there that rely on a web-focused strategy. Every year, eyeballs on websites disappear. And, to me, it’s just so clear that everything needs to be platform native.”

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