Scratch One from the Betting Pool
Our A.G. AI 3000 was just as shocked as The New York Times masthead to learn that Ben Smith was departing the paper. The perennial longshot becomes the first scratch in Off the Record’s odds table on who will replace Dean Baquet as executive editor. While the long odds on Smith attracted some of our pool’s more adventurous wagerers, rules are rules: a scratch is counted as a loss, and those bettors forfeit the OTR$ bucks they placed on him. While Smith was making plans for his future venture, our quants were busy feeding their algorithm a steady stream of Times internal chatter and other proprietary data to produce the first set of new odds since before the holidays.
As the months roll on, the certainty among Times staffers and outside speculators that Joe Kahn (+150 ▲50) will be the new boss has not abated. While early on the pool seemed to be seeking out a suitable not-Kahn contender to rally behind, the absence of a clear alternative has only strengthened Kahn’s lock at the top of the table and shortened his odds. But an interesting race within the race has emerged: if Kahn is looking like a lock, who will be his new right hand as managing editor? A.G. AI 3000’s emerging favorite is Carolyn Ryan (+500 ▲250), whose prominence in thorny management problems like the Times’s Slack crackdown and the sudden departure of Smith (who she edited) has shortened her odds. It’s looking more and more like the top post is Kahn’s to lose — but if Ryan is looking like the most likely No. 2, that puts her a touch closer to the job than the other non-Kahn contenders, deputy managing editor Cliff Levy (+750) and assistant managing editor Marc Lacey (+750).
Getting a boost lower down the table is assistant managing editor Monica Drake (+3000 ▲2000), who was recently entrusted with additional responsibilities which will see her working with David Perpich, a member of the Sulzberger clan who oversees standalone products … like sports site The Athletic, which The Times announced it is purchasing for $550 million, the second-largest acquisition in the company’s history. That trust and Drake’s proximity to the core of the business led A.G. AI 3000 to bump up her odds.
While all individual bets are confidential, here’s where the OTR$ bucks wagered so far have gone.
REMINDER: The pool is open to all subscribers — if you haven’t placed your bets, click here! — and here’s a recap of the rules: Every subscriber has been given OTR$ 1,000 to wager as you see fit. You can place your bets any time before The Times announces the next executive editor, and all bets will be placed confidentially. Whoever finishes with the most OTR$ bucks wins: three annual subscriptions to gift to your valued colleagues or loved ones, eternal bragging rights, probably some Off the Record swag, and maybe a trophy. Happy betting!