Andaiye brings a unique cross-section of professional experiences to the role. She joins URL Media from her own company, Angle Content, which helps companies and publications exceed their audience and customer acquisition goals through strategic content planning, production and distribution. Before that, Andaiye spent more than a decade working at high-performing ad tech startups in roles spanning account management, product management, and content strategy. And from 2013 to 2019 Andaiye ran her own hyperlocal publication, Brick City Live, which covered her beloved hometown of Newark, NJ.
Andaiye is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia Journalism School, and was a fellow at CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
We asked Andaiye about why she chose to join the URL Media team at this moment. Give her a warm welcome and make sure you're following her on LinkedIn (and make sure you’re subscribed to URL’s newsletter!):
Welcome! What’s your happiest place?
Can I cheat and name a few?
My grandmother’s home in Newark. I grew up in that house, and it was also home for our extended family and friends—the place where we all gathered for Thanksgiving, for cookouts, and just because. I even attended my great-grandmother’s wedding in that house. I have so many wonderful memories there and am incredibly grateful that my family can continue creating them—that new generations of our family can experience this place that has meant so much to so many of us.
Taste Venue in Newark was where I met my husband, did a lot of work on Brick City Live, and met and cultivated relationships with scores of wonderful people, some of whom have become dear friends. We even got married there. It was our very own Cheers—our extended living room for half a decade.
And here in California, there’s a trail near us that leads down to a beautiful bluffside cove. No cell reception. We love to hike down there, throw on some pre-downloaded music, watch the ocean and just hang out. It’s gorgeous.
You'll be building URL Media's editorial strategy. What does this mean?
As a former independent publisher, I’m thinking foremost about the publishers in our network and their audiences. How can we make their work more sustainable? How can we amplify it? These publishers are the closest to their communities and their stories and circumstances, so how do we make sure they’re taking their rightful place in national conversations that most affect their communities?
I love reading our newsletter each week because it tells such an essential, eye-opening and differentiated story about what is happening in this country. It is a thought-provoking and unique composite, and I’m thinking about the innovative and elucidating work we can make of that composite story, both through collaboration with and across our partners, and through the original work that we’ll produce.
What are you proudest of in your career so far?
Brick City Live was my love letter to the city of Newark, and it was a triumph because we succeeded in telling Newark a story about itself that was both true and inspiring—week in, week out.
Frankly, years of pent-up frustration also motivated me to my launch of Brick City back in 2013. Doing so was a huge bet on myself. I started publishing at a moment in my career when I felt chronically underappreciated and underutilized at work, a circumstance that belied how hard I worked, how committed I was, and what I actually brought to the table. In fact, I first worked with (URL Media CEO) Mitra eight years ago when I wrote an article, which she edited, about the transition from working for others to working for myself and what it meant.
Brick City was the single most creative time in my professional career, at least to date. I gave myself the chances, the leeway, the confidence, and the opportunity for growth and innovation that I felt I’d been denied elsewhere. It was a time when I was able to prove to myself just how much I knew and how much I was capable of. I learned that getting those types of rich opportunities in the workplace, especially as a Black woman, is so much about the culture, the mission, and leadership. It’s why I’m so excited to join this incredible team under visionary leadership here at URL Media. And it’s why I am so excited to work with our partners. They are doing such excellent and essential work.
What can we find you doing in your off hours?
The primary reason we moved from the East Coast to Southern California was for a different type of lifestyle—a winterless lifestyle—and I’m intentional about enjoying it. It’s walking along the beach, taking cool hikes, hanging out at the marina, hosting family and friends, collecting records, taking road trips, just having a good time.
What might people find surprising about you?
I love math and science!
To be sure, I’m a full-on humanities buff. I majored in history and Africana studies in undergrad; journalism in grad school. I consider myself a born writer. I love to read history, philosophy and politics books. And—surprise, surprise—I’m a newshound.
But I also started coding at an early age. I took C++ for two years in high school and continued coding classes in undergrad. I read books about physics for fun. I seriously considered science journalism and might still give it a shot. When I started my career in NYC in the mid-aughts, I’d take myself on dates to the Hayden Planetarium for talks and exhibits. One of my most prized possessions is a first edition of Cosmos by Carl Sagan, and Contact and Interstellar are two of my all-time favorite movies. (When you build the tension in a movie plot around the implications of relativity, you have my attention.)
What I love about science is how much it defies our expectations of what is possible, especially vis-a-vis the speed and scale of our day-to-day experiences. So many of the natural phenomena in our world—all of them, when you really think about it—are awe-inspiring. Some are even downright strange and logic-defying. I love experiencing wonder, and science delivers that for me.
What is your superpower?
A former boss and frequent collaborator of mine has told me that I have a knack for, as she puts it, “spinning gold from hay.”
I have to agree. I think that I have a gift for making a lot from a little.
What motivates you?
Discovering the answer to this question has been one of the most exciting and empowering developments of my professional life. What a great thing it is to discover your “why.”
Here’s mine: I love helping other people win. It’s why this particular take on an Editorial Director position stopped me in my tracks and made me consider working for a company that isn’t mine. I get to be the partner to our partners that I wish I had when I was running Brick City. And I know I have the editorial, business and strategy chops to be a great partner. My professional happy place is heads down in strategy land, shoring up people and organizations, and filling in gaps in ways that help them succeed.
In grad school, other students would meet me and assume I was studying broadcast journalism because of my personality. But the truth is that out front is not where I feel most effective. I prefer to play in the back and boost others.
What piece of your identity do you bring to URL Media?
I can’t help but bring it all, and I love that URL Media explicitly invites us to do so. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I absolutely must show up as myself to do my best work. I experienced the toll of bifurcating myself to make work feel possible earlier in my career. I refuse to splinter myself ever again.
Relatedly, I bring my energy and style as a two-time founder. For me, that means being a self-starter. It means deriving performance from smart strategy, thoughtful planning, intentional execution and great relationships. It means having balance, and facilitating balance for others, by being considerate and thinking through the human consequences of my decisions, which is incredibly important to me as someone who once worked herself into a burnout that took a year to come back from. It means being accountable and delivering value to the company and to our partners.
And: kindness. Being a good human being to people. I refuse to do otherwise in the name of business or careerism. If I can’t crush it with kindness, then it’s not for me.