“And all the troubled world around us
Seems an eternity away
And all the debt collectors
All will be behind us
But they’ll never find us
‘Cos we’ll be dri-i-i-i-ivin'”
-The Kinks “Drivin'”
The last time I made an announcement about my status here at TTAC, I made it clear in the headline that I was bidding the site “au revoir” rather than “adieu.” Having taken an opportunity to work in politics for a year, I was absolutely planning on returning to the fold. Unfortunately, that plan has now changed, and I have informed TTAC’s owners that today will be my last day on the site’s masthead.
With my planned yearlong sojourn over halfway complete, why would I choose to part ways with TTAC now? As with all business relationships, the answer isn’t simple. However, in hopes of avoiding the kind of speculation swirling around GM’s mysteriously-departed Chief Marketing Officer, Joel Ewanick, I’ll explain the situation as well as I can. After receiving permission from TTAC’s owners, VerticalScope, to take a year’s absence from the site, I was told that the company was interested in discussing an opportunity with me upon my return. Starting several months ago, I began discussing that opportunity with VerticalScope, and spent a not inconsiderable amount of time developing a proposal for them. After several meetings, the company informed me that my plans would not be adopted, for reasons that I had an extremely difficult time understanding. The thinking underlying the company’s decision and my experience interacting with it led me to believe that its goals and culture are incompatible with my continued professional development, which in turn led me to this decision.
On one point I want to be perfectly clear: this decision is not about TTAC, its future or its management. Though I may not see eye-to-eye with TTAC’s owners on a variety of broader issues, I give the company immense credit for its dedication to TTAC’s independence. This site’s freedom to publish what it wishes, and VerticalScope’s support for its continued growth are not in question here; my decision to leave TTAC is a personal one, based on my personal passions and ambitions. And as long as TTAC’s independence and brand values remain, I am convinced that this site will continue to grow into an ever-more crucial role in the auto media landscape.
As for myself, the picture is less clear. After my current contract expires at the end of this year, I intend to return to the automotive world in some capacity… although I currently have no specific plans for where and how that will happen. Having studied politics in college, I now find that my education at TTAC was by far the more formative experience, and I look forward to finding a new outlet for the kind of learning, growth and engagement I quite accidentally found here at TTAC. I’ve never been a “car guy” in the traditional sense, but TTAC’s readers have shown that there is a market for automotive writing that goes beyond the sheetmetal and into the laws, economics, politics and culture of the automobile. Having had the privilege of learning from some of the sharpest minds in the auto industry, both on TTAC’s masthead and in its commenter pool, I take this step into the unknown with confidence.
Of course, I owe an eternal debt to the people who have made my experience here at TTAC what it’s been. Most importantly, I must thank Robert Farago for founding this site and believing in me… without him, none of this would have been possible. I also have to thank my father, Paul Niedermeyer, both for encouraging me to start freelancing here in the first place, and providing crucial support ever since. TTAC’s current Editor-in-Chief, Bertel Schmitt, has been a true mentor to me, and for taking TTAC’s reins in his capable hands, I can not thank him enough. And all of TTAC’s amazingly talented editors and writers, especially those who believed in me when few others did, will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s been an honor to work with each of you.
Finally, my deepest regards go out to TTAC’s commentariat, the Best and Brightest. I think every writer on this site, indeed everyone who regularly visits automotive blogs, can agree that the discourse here at TTAC is some of the finest to be found anywhere on the web. Certainly you have collectively served as the greatest teacher I have ever had. And in contrast to the kinds of discourse I’m regularly exposed to in the world of politics, I can say without hesitation that TTAC’s comment section gives me faith in this country’s ability to reason its way through problems. To those of you I’ve met and known individually, stay in touch and I hope to see you again soon. To those of you who remain my anonymous teachers and friends, thank you for your wisdom and support.
Before this gets too emotional for me, I’ll just note that I can always be found on Twitter at @Tweetermeyer. Oh, and I’ll definitely be found in the comments section here when time permits. TTAC may be losing an editor, but it’s gaining a commenter… and a fan for life.