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Thank You, California

NHL: Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors. In 2019, SB Nation contractors who live in California or contribute to California’s team sites did some truly amazing work: They ran 25 different communities, with all of the sites’ managers pulling together their own unique recipe for smart coverage. Contractors ran social media through the nerve-racking ups and downs of gametime and moderated our sprawling communities. Together, over 200 people on California sites wrote thousands of blog posts in 2019 – pieces so diverse in their conception that it’s impossible to describe them en masse except to say, they were written for a community of fellow fans. This is how things have run for our California blogs since 2003, when Tyler Bleszinski launched Athletics Nation.

Now comes the bittersweet part: In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees. In the early weeks and months of 2020, we will end our contracts with most contractors at California brands. This shift is part of a business and staffing strategy that we have been exploring over the past two years, but one that is also necessary in light of California’s new independent contractor law, which goes into effect January 1, 2020. That new law makes it impossible for us to continue with our current California team site structure because it restricts contractors from producing more than 35 written content “submissions” per year. To comply with this new law, we will not be replacing California contractors with contractors from other states. Rather, we’re encouraging any contractors interested in one of our newly-created full-time or part-time employee positions to apply (you can find them here). We know many of our California contractors already have other full-time jobs and may not have the bandwidth to apply, but we hope to see many of them join us as employees.

We are committed to three things during this transition.

First, continuing to invest more in strengthening our communities in 2020. We know this model works: Two years ago, SB Nation invested in our team sites so that we could support more writing, resource new initiatives like podcasting, and create full-time positions at our biggest communities. In California, we’re doubling down on that last part of the strategy. SB Nation employees are already running our two fastest-growing California communities, Silver Screen & Roll and Niners Nation in the role of site producer.

Second, we’re committed to continuing our relationship with team site contractors in California today. For some of them, that will mean full or part-time employment at SB Nation, but for others it will mean offering a platform: They’ve built a following among our communities and after their contracts end, they’ll have the option (but no obligation) to continue blogging on those communities whenever (and only when) they like. They will be the first of our new Community Insiders – with a special lane to write on the site and a special place on the masthead. Community Insiders’ participation in events, blogging and any other community activities will always be 100 percent voluntary with no obligations to SB Nation at all. But to the extent these incredibly talented people want to remain involved in the communities that they helped build, create and foster, they will be – with special access to the features of the best sports conversation platform on the web.

Third, we are committed to doing right by these individuals who have been honorable and respected business partners. The network Tyler built has long relied upon us giving contractors the keys to publishing what they felt their communities wanted (and needed), and these contractors consistently lived up to the spirit and the letter of their agreements with us. We’ve offered each of them paid notice that recognizes their contributions and gives them time to decide what’s next for them.

I, my team, SB Nation and Vox Media are immensely proud to have worked with California contractors past and present. To those pursuing their careers in sports media: We’re looking forward to talking about our open roles. To fans in California: Get excited for our coverage next year. To each and every contractor in California: Thank you.