Seismic Shifts Have Radically Altered the Tech News and Blogging World

The landscape of the tech news and blogging world has been radically altered in the last year, and it just got another big jolt by the news that ReadWriteWeb has been acquired by SAY Media. First of all, I want to congratulate RWW founder Richard MacManus on the exit. He’s been working on the blog for eight years now, and he deserves to be recognized for his hard work. It’s important to note though that this wasn’t an up acquisition. RWW has been hemorrhaging traffic for the last year, and it has lost a lot of its key writers/editors, including Marshall Kirkpatrick (doing a startup) and Sarah Perez (now at TechCrunch). Mashable, Business Insider and TechCrunch left RWW in the dust. I love ReadWriteWeb, but someone had to point this out. Speaking of which, there have been a lot of changes all around, and it’s something my friends in the tech media world have noticed. Let’s recap just a few of the changes:
  • TechCrunch got acquired by AOL, and then HuffPo got acquired by AOL.
  • Michael Arrington is no longer at TechCrunch; he’s a VC now.
  • Star writer MG Siegler is no longer at TechCrunch; he’s a VC now as well, though he writes Apple stories on occasion.
  • Senior editor Sarah Lacy left TechCrunch; she’s reportedly working on her own competing news website.
  • On the other hand, TechCrunch managed to woo away Eric Eldon and Josh Constine from Inside Facebook. Eldon, formerly of Venturebeat, is a smart and well-connected writer, while John Constine is a rising star in the tech news world.
  • Oh, and TechCrunch poached Sarah Perez from RWW. A good move on its part as well.
  • Star writer Dan Frommer left Business Insider earlier this year to start his own site, SplatF. And now he’s the Editor-at-Large of ReadWriteWeb.
  • ReadWriteWeb has lost a lot of people in recent months. Marshall Kirkpatrick is the biggest loss, but it’s softened by the fact that he’s still a regular contributor. There has been a lot of writer turnover this year, though.
  • Mashable made a very smart move when it snagged Lance Ulanoff as its Editor-in-Chief. Mashable poached him away from PC Magazine. I have a lot of respect for Lance; he’s a strong leader.
  • Mashable also hired Chris Taylor as it’s SF Bureau Chief early this year. Now he’s the Deputy Editor. Side note: he’s the best boss I’ve ever had. My respect for him is unquestionable.
  • Continuing on the Mashable front, Jolie O’Dell left Mashable to join VentureBeat earlier this year.
  • Longtime Mashable reporter Jennifer Van Grove left Mashable to join VentureBeat not long after Jolie.
  • Speaking of VentureBeat, it lost Executive Editor Owen Thomas earlier this year. He’s now the founding editor of The Daily Dot, which I have enjoyed greatly.
  • Another VentureBeat note: it lost Anthony Ha to AdWeek earlier this year.
  • VentureBeat hasn’t missed a beat, though (hah). It hired Dylan Tweney as its new Executive Editor, and he’s been kicking ass over there. It recently hired Chikodi Chima and Meghan Kelly, along with Jolie and Jenn.
  • But VentureBeat did lose Matt Lynley to Business Insider in the last few months. He’s been breaking lots of stories over there (did you know that his bonus compensation at Business Insider is based entirely on how many stories he breaks? Lynley is BI’s news hound).
  • Business Insider’s been kicking ass, though. It just got Boonsri Dickinson (SmartPlanet, CNET). She’s someone to watch in the tech media world.
  • Random aside: Bloomberg West launched this year as a news program focused on the valley, and the valley has taken notice. Host Emily Chang and her team are quickly turning that show into a powerhouse.
  • Brian Lam, the Gizmodo editor best known for the iPhone 4 prototype, left the publication this year.
  • But that wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the exodus at Engadget. Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky and half a dozen key players left the blog and started a new one, The Verge. By the way, I love The Verge. It’s such a beautiful website; it reminds me of Engadget during its heyday.
  • One more win for The Verge: it managed to snag Winrumors founder Tom Warren as its Senior European Editor. Tom Warren knows Microsoft like the back of his hand.
  • Engadget did quickly acquire some new talent after the exodus, though.
  • The Next Web has been steadily adding people to its roster. Drew Olanoff and Cheri Macale are recent additions. More importantly, Zee has been appointed TNW’s CEO and is moving out to the valley early next year. (Update: Cheri’s no longer at TNW)
  • AllThingsD made some big changes late last year. It expanded its editorial scope and added Liz Gannes from GigaOm, Ina Fried from CNET, Tricia Duryee from PaidContent and Arik Hesseldahl from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
  • The New York Times also made some recent hires for the Bits blog. Among the new additions: Brian X. Chen (ex-Wired), Nicole Perlroth (ex-Forbes) and Quentin Hard (ex-Forbes).
  • CNET note: it lost star social writer Caroline McCarthy to Google this year. Google also snagged the BBC’s Maggie Shiels as its International Media Liason recently.
  • But CNET is bouncing back in a big way. Earlier this year, CBS (the parent company of CNET) hired Jim Lanzone as President of the CBSi division. The former Ask.com executive is doing big things over there. Keep your eyes on CNET.
  • Did you know that PaidContent is for sale?
  • On the Techmeme/Mediagazer side, former editor Megan McCarthy (ex-Wired, Valleywag) is now the News Editor at the New York Observer.
  • Update: A lot of people have tweeted at me to include the launch of Betabeat, the NYC-focused tech news site. It has grown a whole bunch — to the point where I thought it had been around longer (I’m SF-based, so I’m not a regular reader). The NY Observer has something good going on over there, though.
  • GigaOm deserves a mention for some recent hires: Colleen Taylor, Erica Ogg, Barb Darrow and Kevin Fitchard. Solid writers, very little drama.
  • And finally, I’m no longer at Mashable. And no, I’m not joining another tech news website — at least full-time. I’m doing a startup, as I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.
Wow. Did that all really happen in just the last year and a half? It’s shocking how much has changed in the tech news world recently. It’s in a transition and innovation cycle. Big players are getting acquired while tech reporters and editors are making lots of moves, while others are getting out of the game altogether. But there are rising stars that are replacing them. The tech news and blogging world looks nothing like the one I joined in 2008. And I have the feeling that we’re nowhere near the end. Expect more big moves and acquisitions. Image courtesy of Flickr, Annais