Ben Popken started writing Consumerist in November 2005, right about the same time I started this blog. In the six years since, Ben and his team built Consumerist into the most important consumer website on the internet. Today, Ben Popken announced that he is leaving Consumerist to pursue other projects. Ben doesn’t say why he left, but he plans to keep writing—maybe just not so much as a consumer advocate.
Besides the great work Ben did as a consumer advocate, he was a great writer. I wrote for Consumerist occasionally from 2008–2010, and the feedback he gave me helped me improve and define my own writing. Here’s a summary of his work and his writing from his farewell note:
It’s been my honor to lift up the tales of the little guy and to tilt at the titans by your side. The Goliaths still don’t get how much power you have now that anyone can become a publisher in the time it takes to sign up for a Tumblr account. I hope you’ll keep reminding them. All you need is a good story, perseverance, and cat pictures!
It’s not sad, exactly. Consumerist will continue to fight for consumers, and Ben will go on to work on other—hopefully awesome—things. But this is definitely the end of an era for a very important consumer advocate.