Six months ago today, we launched GeekWire.
My most vivid memory of that morning is John jumping out of my car at a stoplight in Pioneer Square, thinking it would be faster to walk the last couple blocks to our developer’s office to get things rolling. He was moving so fast that he turned out to be right.
We’ve become a little more patient since then, maybe, but we’re just as excited about what we’re doing. Building this thing is energizing, exhausting, scary, amazing, challenging, and basically lots of fun.
Six months later, GeekWire is our home. It’s hard to believe we were ever anywhere else. We know this site has become a favorite hangout for many of you, and we’re grateful that you’ve joined us here. (Yes, even you, “Guest.” Congratulations on your persistence.)
When we started, we promised to periodically stop and provide updates on where we stand. We think it’s important to tell you what we’ve been doing, where we’re going, and ask for your continued feedback, involvement and support to shape the resource we’re looking to build for the tech community.
So here it is, GeekWire’s story so far, or at least my version of it …
Who we are, and what we’re about
GeekWire is the only national technology news site based in Seattle.
Our goal is to inform, connect, entertain, support, challenge and sometimes even light a fire under the ass of the tech community. We live in Seattle, and what we write is flavored with our city like the salty brine of Puget Sound on the oysters at Fishermen’s Terminal.
We cover national technology news with a Seattle lens, and we put a national spotlight on the personalities, companies and occasional revolutions coming out of the Seattle region.
At least that’s our aspiration. And hey, if all else fails, we do know how to throw a party.
As many of you know, John Cook and I are longtime reporters on the tech news beat. We got our start in newspapers but we love the online world.
We do our best to cover a broad range of topics, but we also dig deep whenever we can — such as John scouring Capitol Hill this weekend with his son in tow to snap some exclusive photos of Amazon.com’s new storage lockers at 7-Eleven. We’ve been getting so many inquiries from media organizations wanting republishing rights that I’m half expecting a call tomorrow from TMZ.
John and I have worked together for almost a decade now. We almost always get along, occasionally there’s some yelling, but for the most part that’s just me blowing off steam. We’re a good team, and our skills and personalities are a good complement.
We’ve been part of big media companies in the past, and we started a site for one of those companies a few years back. But GeekWire is the first time we’ve done an honest-to-goodness startup, like making an apple pie from scratch, you might say.
GeekWire is our chance to not only cover tech startups but to experience just a bit of their world first-hand. We’re livin’ the life, baby.
Which is the scary part. Fortunately we’ve got some great people working with us — and two in particular — who actually know what they’re doing.
Jonathan Sposato, our partner and investor, is the Obi-Wan of the Seattle startup scene, and we feel fortunate to get to sit down with him to go over business strategy and plans.
Rebecca Lovell, our chief business officer, has been advising startups and literally teaching classes in this stuff for years. Her last job was running the Northwest Entrepreneur Network.
I mean, seriously, how did we get so lucky?
One result of doing the startup thing is that we pay a lot closer attention to those guest posts that we publish from entrepreneurs, in which they share what they’ve learned. We usually have long email exchanges after they run, debating how the lessons apply to whatever crazy idea we’re considering at the moment.
Startup Challenge No. 1
That’s right, email exchanges. Not conversations in the break room. Did I mention we’re still virtual?
We are, and this is at the top of our list of things to change. In short, we’ve been working at home and meeting up a lot at coffee shops and bars. While the back table at the Red Door in Fremont is a fine place to hang out for an afternoon, it’s becoming clear that we’d be far more efficient if the core team were working more regularly together in a fixed location.
Our families would be better for it, as well. Working from home brings a ton of advantages — including the chance to take my coffee breaks with my 9-month-old daughter — but at times the inevitable blending of work life into personal life hasn’t always been great for my mental outlook.
John’s 2-year-old son has started closing his laptop lid when he’s working. Rebecca recently moved into a new place that offers Internet access from Broadstripe, with a quality of service that has made the company’s name a swear word at our team meetings.
So, yeah, we’re in the process of finding ourselves a GeekWire HQ.
Among other things, we’re looking forward to having a place to meet up with the companies we partner with (big shout-out here to Bill Nordwall and the team at Foundry Interactive), and also with our cast of contributors — including Practical Nerd columnist Frank Catalano (who really knows how to stir up the Hacker News crowd) and photographer Annie-Laurie Malarkey (whose portraits accompany our Geek of the Week profiles and other features).
A (familiar) new voice on GeekWire
We actually have some news on this front: Our cast of contributors is growing.
We’re pleased to report that Monica Guzman will soon be adding her voice to the site, writing a weekly column and periodic blog posts for GeekWire starting this week. Many of you know Monica from her work as the Seattle P-I’s “Net Native” columnist before she became the voice of the newspaper’s widely read Big Blog.
Fresh off a startup experience of her own, Monica is a true force, and we can’t wait to see her take on topics such as the implications of social media, the idiosyncrasies of digital life and, well, I’m mostly just taking a wild guess at what she’s going to write about … we’ve given Monica lots of suggestions but generally just asked her to tackle anything she finds interesting in the general realm of geekdom.
Look for her column starting soon, and please join us in welcoming her to the team.
More news: Our first iPhone app is on the way, in partnership with the Filter digital agency, one of our annual sponsors. Timing TBD, but for quick access to GeekWire headlines and stories, this will come in handy for many of you. And yes, we’re looking at apps for other mobile platforms in the future.
Still more news: Our daily email newsletter has been redesigned by the ace team at Seattle’s Design Commission. We love it, and we hope you will, too. Distributed at 11 a.m. each day, it’s a great way to catch up on every last bit of GeekWire’s newsy goodness, or at least give it a passing glance. (Sign up here.)
And hey, have you been listening to the GeekWire radio show? If not, stick that dial to 97.3 KIRO-FM for a conversation about the week’s technology news, interesting guests, and our ever-popular Name that Tech Tune contest, with fabulous prizes. (The show is available here as a podcast.)
State of the business, and figuring out what’s next
So where is this all headed? As a news business, our success depends on our ability to provide value to our readers and sponsors, and more broadly to the community at large.
GeekWire’s readership has eclipsed the projections we laid out in our business plan, and surpassed any of the monthly numbers we’ve ever experienced in all our years of doing this. That’s fascinating to us, because from our perspective we’re really just getting started, and we believe there’s still a lot we can do to produce better and more creative content as we grow.
Incidentally, on this topic, we’d love to hear your feedback — what you like, what you hate, the types of stories you want us to cover, and the angles you want us to explore. We also thrive on your news tips, not only the inside secrets but even the everyday messages passing on links to news and topics you think we should dig into. Please keep us in mind whenever you hear something you think we’d be interested in. firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re also thankful to all of you who comment on our posts and especially to all of you who contribute guest posts.
Content partnerships with msnbc.com, KIRO-FM, KING-TV, and Seattle Business magazine have helped us reach an even wider audience. We’re proud of our top 20 ranking on TechMeme, the tech news aggregator of record, ahead of publications that have been in business many, many more years
But how’s the GeekWire business doing? There, too, we’re on a solid path.
For that, we’re grateful for the huge show of support we’ve seen from a broad cross-section of people and companies in the Seattle tech community. More than 800 of you attended our launch event, and we’re especially thankful to all of the companies that have signed on as GeekWire sponsors and advertisers, including innovative tech companies and top-notch service providers.
So far, advertisers are using GeekWire for everything from finding engineers to selling high-end condos to promoting their next big tech event and building their brands.
Big shout-out here to annual sponsors Filter and Barokas Public Relations. As Rebecca says, they “provide critical services to the ever-expanding tech community, kick ass at what they do, are edgy in their own right, get the job done, and are, in short, geeks of the highest order.”
GeekWire is proud to be associated with them.
Of course, this startup thing isn’t all wine and roses. Apart from the complications of working virtually, one of our biggest challenges continues to be time, and juggling everything that needs to be done. All of us routinely work late into the night, and early into the morning, to keep up with the daily demands of the site and the larger work needed to move the business forward.
It’s no surprise that a big topic of our weekly team meetings is when we should expand, and how — weighing the various ways we want to improve GeekWire as a site and as a business, as well as opportunities we see to better serve the region’s tech community. Lots of interesting stuff going on here. Stay tuned.
And yes, we’re planning our next big event. (Rebecca is working her magic again.) Stay tuned on that, as well.
Most of all, thanks for being part of GeekWire. We hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are.