(POPSUGAR Photography/Kyle Hartman)

New Media Maven

Krista Moatz has helped POPSUGAR grow from a personal blog into a global media giant

(POPSUGAR Photography/Kyle Hartman)

“I’ve learned so many lessons,” Krista Moatz (BA 2000) says of her more than 13 years at POPSUGAR. In that time, Moatz and a team of five other co-founders have turned Lisa Sugar’s personal blog into a global media and technology company that boasts 300 million readers every month.

“There’s a thrill to working on something from the beginning,” she says. “Every day there was a new challenge.”

Moatz moved to San Francisco in 2000, right after graduating from the Foster School. She worked as an investment banker before taking an accounting role with the computer software startup Sugar Media, owned by Brian Sugar. When Sugar Media sold, Moatz went back to investment banking.

In 2006, Brian invited her to join the founding team of a new venture: POPSUGAR.

Five years into her career in investment banking, Moatz decided to take the leap into a new opportunity.

Managing growth

Moatz told Brian Sugar she would join the founding team, but she wanted to do what the company does, take on more than finance.

“So that’s when he pitched the role of managing editor. I was like, ‘I have no idea how to do it, but it sounds interesting and I can figure it out,’” she says with a laugh. “Being an investment banker, I got to work with a lot of CEOs and CFOs, but I never got to be involved in running the business.”

She and the rest of the founding team quit their other jobs and started raising funding and building POPSUGAR. As managing editor, Moatz worked alongside Lisa Sugar to really build out the website content and operations

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“The uncertainty of it was hard. Also, it’s a lot of work. We did work 24/7, but it was because we wanted to. That part was hard, but it was also fun,” Moatz says.

Culture czar

Nine years later, Moatz moved into a new role at POPSUGAR. As the EVP of culture and corporate citizenship, she is responsible for making sure everything the company does—from HR policies to product launches to partnerships—lines up with POPSUGAR’s culture and company values. “I’m like the culture watchdog, making sure we are always staying true to who we are and what we do,” she says.

That includes an initiative to recruit more women in the engineering department. While nearly 90 percent of the company’s employees are women, including more than 60 percent of its VPs and above, women were far less represented in engineering.

Moatz says the effort to recruit woman engineers is ongoing. Programming is now in place to not only recruit engineers, but also to develop the ones that already work at POPSUGAR. Growth opportunities for employees include dinners, mentoring programs and speaking opportunities.

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“It goes back to our values and the culture we’re trying to create,” Moatz says. “Our company is about creating content and a brand that inspires and empowers women.”

Expanding the brand

She’s seen the company from its very beginnings to a huge success that operates out of multiple cities and was recently acquired by Group Nine Media. But Moatz only has her eyes on keeping the POPSUGAR brand growing.

That means the introduction of a clothing line, a line of beauty products and a festival in New York that brings POPSUGAR to life. “We want to keep growing in as many ways as we can,” she explains. “We have to stay focused on our core business, but think about our brand in more ways than just content.”

Her advice for anyone thinking about taking a similar leap and starting a business?

“Just dive in. Don’t worry about trying to get everything lined up, get the business plan perfect. People spend time on things that aren’t the business or product,” she says. “Don’t be afraid. Just jump in and you’ll figure it out.”

-Kristin Anderson

Kristin Anderson Associate Director of Stakeholder Communications & Relations Foster School

Kristin Anderson is the associate director of stakeholder communications & relations at Foster. After graduating from Boston University, she worked in broadcast news in Texas, Alaska and Seattle before joining the Foster School. Kristin enjoys running, camping, traveling and catching a movie at SIFF.