After over five and a half years at Gawkermod/O Media, Zach Custer is leaving us to spend more time with his dog and his flower pictures. During his tenure as Promotions Manager, Senior Director of Performance Marketing (whatever the hell that meant), and Senior Director of Affiliate Partnerships and Commerce, he stood up new lines of business, made the company millions of dollars, and was an all-around positive and beloved force for good. So now, let’s roast the shit out of him...he sucks!
Ryan Brown, Former SVP of Business Development
My first order of business is to assure the voluminous readership of this here roast that I will, by no measure, come anywhere near close to roasting Zach in the way he absolutely devastated me on my way out. I was a wreck for weeks, not by his hand alone, but more the surgical precision he employed in cutting my ego so deep. when I finally recover, I’ll come back and comment on this post. I will get my revenge.
That said, I will do my best.
We (my predecessor and me) hired Zach almost 5.5 years ago now. But the best part of hiring him was that he was so unbelievably thirsty for the job that he started doing it before we even made the offer. Seriously, he put together lists of targets, some notes about his approach, and how he thought about the role growing. What an absolute dork.
Through those next few years, he took to the culture of Gawker immediately. How a lanky red head from rural Colorado managed to fit in with the slick urbanites in Soho I’ll never understand, but I always assumed he asked everyone to be his friend in quiet pleadeding whispers between meetings and in passing. Pathetic.
The craziest part is that even after he pretended to know how to do the job before getting it—and honestly this is wild—is that he actually nailed it. The dude built a business from our bad idea, grew it, hired smartly, and wasn’t afraid to tell me I was an idiot and to recalibrate when we needed to. And what’s more: when I wanted him to step up and take a bigger role and grow into an even lankier and more angry version of himself, he told me that was a bad idea too!!! And he was right!!!!!
GOwker media will be forever in Zach’s debt. He built so much weird and good shit that drove the business, codified our culture, and made all of us think about how we could be doing to be better at our jobs (and how to not piss him off).
Shep McAllister, Senior Director of Commerce
For the past year and a half, I’ve ostensibly managed commerce editorial, while Zach has been my counterpart on the business side. But once in a blue moon, as if to remind me how fucking well he could do my job too, he’d pop in with an incredible blog or an off-the-wall story idea, whenever he wasn’t too busy brow-beating unhelpful PR flacks, negotiating reader-exclusive deals, or developing new lines of business from scratch.
Basically, he can do it all. Like stay out until 3 AM in Vegas during CES, and then run 10 miles in the morning before the rest of us managed to drag our useless, hungover bodies to the lobby. Or somehow stay motivated to finish a marathon after inept organizers caused him to run a full mile off course. Or nail an ad read for a sex toy shop with a pitch-perfect sultry croon. Or post his bare ass on Instagram and get more likes than I’ll get for anything I ever post. (I’ll let you find that one yourselves).
My roast of Zach is in many ways the coda of my roast of Ryan Brown, and to this era of Gawkmod/O business development generally. While Ryan was the fast-talking optimist that could keep me excited in an increasingly dire industry, Zach has always been the skeptical curmudgeon who I could look to with a raised eyebrow to stay grounded. I’ve needed both, and in the proper balance, to stay sane over the past few years, so it’s probably good that they’re both leaving me at roughly the same time.
So goodbye, Zach, I’m sure you’re going to kill it as the marketing lead for that voice controlled trash can.
Josh “Bosh” Bottino, Former Performance Marketing Manager
Zach, Custer, half of Cusbot, and most importantly.. DAD —
Almost four years ago to the day (October 15, 2015), you hired me at what was Gawker Media, and little did I know what that would become for me. It shaped my career and mentality about digital media, which I greatly owe to your leadership. You’ve taught me literally everything about affiliate marketing, how roller bags at the airport are a huge no-no, how it’s ok to wear sandals to the office (I’m still against this majorly), and that roasting the VP of our department on a daily basis is all part of the job (s/o Ryan Brown).
Hope to make it out to Portland one of these days to slug way too many beers at a Nets/Blazers game.
Best of luck dude!
Ps - I’ll try to make varsity next year...
Corey Foster, Deals Researcher
I typed and deleted several paragraphs of weak-ass roasts describing Zach Custer as a stereotypical northwesterner wannabe. The problem with roasting him for it is that his brain finally caught up with his persona and made him actually move to Portland. It took those paragraphs to make me realize that the reason my roast content is weak is because of how much I think of Zach.
Throughout the half decade we’ve worked together, Zach and I have had beers, Nashville hot chicken, BBQ, and have generally spent more time hanging out than anyone else I’ve remotely worked with at Gawker-GMG-G/O. He’s met my wife and kids, and I’ve met his mom. And neither of us were traumatized by either experience.
We’ve even shared office space on one Cyber Monday without murdering each other.
I just can’t make myself legitimately roast this guy. That’s honestly the worst thing I can say about Zach. He’s too good of a human and I hate him for leaving and making me even try to roast him.
Chelsea Stone, Senior Commerce Editor
I am a person who hates confrontation, but Zach Custer has turned me into a full-on confrontation fan! I’ve never seen someone craft such devastating, withering emails intended drag some poor, affiliate soul straight to hell. I look forward to other people’s screw-ups for the sole purpose of watching Zach call them out. I cheer when it’s time for Zach to send a mean email to someone with their boss cc’d. Watching Zach eviscerate someone in print is like watching a very violent UFC match, gruesome and somewhat disturbing, but also very fucking entertaining.
Sure, Zach has been the force behind countless great ideas, earned this company millions of dollars, and introduced me to my favorite hot sauce, Secret Aardvark. But if there’s anything anyone should remember about this exceptional, now-former colleague of mine, it is this: Never cross Zach Custer, because he will annihilate you.
Tercius Bufete, Commerce Editor
Zach Custer is the angriest, sassiest ginger I’ve ever met.
His hot takes are as legendary as his Instagram feed is basic. I guess it’s on brand; Basicness is oxygen to Zach.
Look—He lives in Portland, likes dogs and live concerts, had an ironic mustache for a hot second, and he takes beer marathons way too seriously.
I’m sorry, isn’t that all the dull people we swipe left on because it’s probably a prank. Since... well, no one can be that paint-by-the-numbers basic.
But in all seriousness, eat shit ya red-headed, flat-assed turd. You’re bailing, just like every basic bitch around here.
Good riddance. The Inventory won’t miss your mic drops on Slack, or your refreshing candor. I definitely won’t miss your food recommendations or your work ethic.
All the stuff you developed here, the relationships you helped built, won’t miss you and they certainly will continue to thrive despite your absence.
Go and live your best life. Whatever the hell that means.
Ana Suarez, Commerce Editor
When I heard Zach was leaving, I assumed it was to focus on posting flowers to his Instagram full-time. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone more dedicated to posting random flowers, with no context, on Insta. He’ll never actually caption the photos with what flower you’re looking at. He just wants us to figure it out on our own.
In all seriousness, I’ll miss having Zach there to drop in with a hot take on just about anything. If you’re ever annoyed by something, you can count on Zach having your back to say exactly why you’re right and that thing is totally stupid.
Victor Jeffreys, G/O Media Polymath
Zach—you became a legend after wearing these pants to our ‘we have no money because a thin skinned billionaire has sued us into oblivion so we are going to cover a conference room in our office with aluminum foil, buy a bunch of BUDLITE, bring only A+ attitudes, and call it a holiday party’.....THOSE WERE THE DAYS. Then you went on to help us make MILLIONS of dollars (thank you!)—and of course...you some how don’t work here anymore. You will be missed—so will all of that money you have been making for us.
Catherine LeClair, Former Associate Creative Director
Custer is a man of many talents. Just look to the audio clip at the top of this post, which immortalizes the day he and I did a sexy ad read for Adam and Eve. I very clearly had a cold the day we recorded this, but Custer sounds incredibly smooth. He was a natural, and he didn’t even have to spend thousands of dollars on improv classes at UCB, like I did. I hope one day he and I reunite professionally to accomplish what was always our goal with the podcast ad reads we did together: make the ads so good that people skip past the podcast to listen to them.
Once, an advertiser sent Custer and I some ice cream packed with dry ice. We then spent way too much time playing with the dry ice, and it was a really fun day. If you listen closely you can hear Custer saying “that is dope.” Please now enjoy a soothing video of the dope dry ice:
Jillian Lucas, Former Commerce Editor
Even after over 2 years of working together, I’m unsure if Custer and I liked each other. He’s truly a red-haired enigma. His love of beer outweighs his hate of most things. I’m glad he gets to stretch his legs in Portland but mostly I’m bummed because I’ll probably never get to see Miller, the best dog, again.
Also, my favorite Custer story is when we were flying back from a slightly ill-advised team trip to Chicago to spend a lot of money making videos for Kinja Deals, he sat next to a grown man who took a full, unpeeled carrot out of his bag and ate it like a horse. It was weird.
Alex Mason, Former holder of many jobs here
I was hoping Custer would just fly under the radar for years and take money from the geniuses in charge of G/O from afar, but alas, he is too smart to be stuck in that situation. A true inspiration to my late 20’s health resurgence, some of my favorite memories of Custer are talking about getting drunk after work while his extreme discipline of “Not drinking, have to run a fucking marathon” kicks in. He is the king of making you feel like a dickhead whether he wants to or not, and that is a trait I truly admire in people.
We share an incredible theory about Peter Thiel that our texts are almost exclusively about, and one day you’ll all see it come to light. Seems like it becomes more true with every passing day. Custer is probably the only person in this Gawker world that I believe will eventually stare Blood Boy down IRL and tell him to “fuck off forever.” I can’t say “I’ll miss you” because he moved across the country awhile ago and I haven’t seen him since, but I’m happy for him, his beautiful dog, and his newfound nature-filled life. I promise to come out there one day soon to hang, and that’s not just my drunk self saying it again. Good luck my friend!
Heather Hynes, Former Director of Creative Operations
Custer is such an asshole. His ability to be rude and right is very annoying. Congrats on getting out and having more time to spend posting flower pictures.