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 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

  • Justin Germino

    Ironically I joined in 2008 as well and so much change has happened it is crazy, but this is good.  We have seen how these blogs have grown and become entities worth consuming by major corporations who failed to have the outlet to provide information as these sites and this encourages others who are trying to pursue similar sites in their own niches or perhaps in the same niche.  As long as quality remains in the articles the sites themselves will continue to thrive and any new authors/contributors will gain their own fanbases.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great illustration of the democratization of media. No one owns the reader any more as the velocity of information continues to increase. 
    The piece I’d be curious to see is how many companies have hired top editors to create Scoble-like content they can distribute as their own. I expect to see an acceleration in this area.

  • Jon Lim

    Whoa, great summary of the year in tech blogs. Thanks Ben!.

    Would love to hear more about that startup, so definitely keep us posted!

  • Guest

    Also, Gizmodo shake-up with Joe Brown in as new EiC after Blam left.

  • Chris Michaels

    Google also bagged Dan Sieberg, formerly of CBS News. 

    • Caroline McCarthy

      And Louis Gray. Googlers represent!

  • Jody Raines

    Ben, as long as the writers continue to work their magic and share their viewpoints, we’ll continue to follow them regardless of labels…

  • Alok Saboo

    It is a healthy sign for the “industry” as it legitimizes the whole space. I just hope it is not a bubble and bloggers do not start expecting to be millionaires out of their blogs.

  • Rich Reader

    apart from the individual transitions, what is happening at a deeper level which has fundamentally changed the tech news industry, as well as inspired so many transitions?
    I also recall a time when the editorial side did more to check the facts, and verify the hypothesi/conjectures of the tech news authors. Nowadays, there’s more of a caveat emptor for the tech news consumer. What’s up with that?

  • Michela Fossati Bellani

    I was wondering about what your plans were ben. Ever since you came to Carol Quinns class to speak I’ve been keeping an eye out. Glad to see your doing what you want to do. I’ve always been a big advocate for this motto  in life. Congrats =] 

  • Appmasterpatrick

    A lesson is to be learned from iPad app news filter Zite.

    Be first and sell quick – $35 Mil to CNN – stay around too long and content quality takes a nosedive; eg, Mashable and knock~off competitors devalue the asset class to zero.

  • Johnfurrier

    while everyone is selling and not working… SiliconANGLE is self funded and growing like crazy..  

    • Ben Parr

      Glad to hear it!

    • Who

      Silicon what? Seriously, never heard of your site.

      • Johnfurrier

        Who:  we will bring back anon comments to get you over there … get with the program and get over there

    • Ross Larter

      John, Thanks for the heads up on siliconangle , i’ve been looking for something with a bit more tech content in it, its on my daily read list now. ross @ moodpanda

  • Motmaitre

    You missed the recent acquisition of Winrumors. Interesting how blogs are becoming the mainstream media they used to scorn.

  • Ross Larter

    So many writer’s leaving to do tech startups, they certainly have the right connections

  • Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins

    You missed a couple bullet points. Alex Williams left RWW’s Enterprise channel to head up enterprise coverage at SiliconANGLE, and coaxed over Klint Finley as well.

  • johnhcook

    An awesome list for sure, but you forgot to include the launch of GeekWire, which came on the scene in a big way in Seattle and is now a top 35 tech news site on TechMeme. 

    Of course, I think it is pretty big news, since I am one of the co-founders. I guess we “poached” ourselves from the dregs of corporate media world. :) 

    • Ross Larter

      Yep GeekWire rocks , it’s the first thing i read every day

      • johnhcook

        Awesome. Thanks for reading!!

  • Anil Dash

    And this omits the rise of BetaBeat, which has also been impressive.

  • Ian Bell gets more traffic than Gigaom and Venturebeat combined and no one knows about us either!

  • Michael Olsen

    I would just add that Leo Laporte’s TWiT moved to a new studio and added talent to its staff as well.

  • iconic88

    Thanks for this Ben. Do you have any insights on theAsian/African/European/Australasian tech landscape?


    • Ross Larter

      Europe news would be good, I lots of the blogs only seem to cover whats happening in california

  • ufctickets

    nice post