Team GeekWire with Lesley Stahl in Seattle

Growing up in the Cook household, Sunday night meant two things: Coccia House pizza and “60 Minutes.” So, you can imagine my excitement as Todd Bishop and I sat in a luxury suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel fielding questions from Lesley Stahl, the legendary correspondent for the CBS news magazine. How did a couple of goofball tech journalists from Seattle end up in this position?

Stahl and her crew were in town late last month working on a piece on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and the producers reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in going on camera to share some of our thoughts about the reclusive billionaire.

Uh, yeah.

We, of course, were honored and humbled by the request. And we jumped at the opportunity, thinking it would not only be a once-in-a-lifetime experience but also an amazing brand booster for GeekWire.

Despite being pulled over by a motorcycle cop on Aurora Avenue on the way to the interview, we made it to the makeshift studio on time. Stahl was impressive, putting us at ease while she asked some penetrating questions about Allen’s role in the formation of Microsoft, his relationship with Bill Gates and the billionaire’s unfortunate investment track record.

We thought the interview went pretty well, assured by the camera crew as they shot footage of us working on our computers outside Rock Bottom Brewery that Stahl had “gotten some really good stuff.”

Of course, there were no promises that we’d make it into the show. But we felt pretty good about things, especially given the follow-up questions from the producers.

But then, on Thursday, came some bad news. Given the time limitations, the producers of the show made the decision to focus the piece entirely on Allen’s comments, cutting out team GeekWire and the other folks they interviewed in Seattle.

We understood. But we were obviously bummed. Tonight’s broadcast of the piece will be a bit bittersweet.

But it’s not all bad news. We received some good news when Todd was chosen to interview Paul Allen at Town Hall this Friday. [Update: We were also thrilled to learn that some of our comments were included in the accompanying material on the 60 Minutes' Web site as part of a short segment titled "Is it a vendetta?" Check it out here.]

Ups and downs. Highs and lows. That’s what a startup is all about.

You just got to roll with it.

MOVING ON UP

We started testing a new sponsor post concept this week with Facebook

And, all things considered, our first month in business exceeded our wildest expectations. Scoops, analysis, in-depth interviews, offbeat features, great podcast guests, geeky videos and new features such as Geek of the Week and Nerd Notes set us on an amazing trajectory. We surpassed more than half a million page views in a little more than a month — a milestone we’d thought would take three to six months to achieve.

We’ve also climbed the charts of the TechMeme leaderboard, now ranked a top 20 site on the influential tech news aggregation site. Our Facebook page just topped 1,700 followers, as did our Twitter account @GeekWireNews.

Even better, the business is starting to hum (we’ve got more exciting announcements along these lines in the works). Facebook signed on this past week as GeekWire’s first “sponsor post” participant, an early test of some of the sponsorship and advertising concepts we have in the works.

WELCOME TO GREEKWIRE

Despite those successes, there’s still so much more to do. And one of the challenges remains brand recognition. At the Hops & Chops entrepreneur happy hour on Capitol Hill this past week, several of the attendees had heard of GeekWire. But a few had not, (those folks quickly received a GeekWire laptop sticker and an invitation to join our community).

I got a good chuckle on this misprint from the Zynga Seattle grand opening

Others have not yet discovered the GeekWire gospel, or they may think it is spread in a classic European language.

At Zynga’s grand opening party in Seattle this past week, I showed up to find a name tag for John Cook of “GreekWire.”

I laughed when I saw it, joking with fellow journalists Tricia Duryee and Joe Tartakoff that we were on a mission to tell the best tech stories out of Athens.

The PR folks at Zynga were horrified by the error, which was innocent enough and really quite funny. But, in true entrepreneurial fashion, I made lemonade out of lemons by flipping the name tag over and pasting a GeekWire sticker on the badge.

A MARATHON AND A SPRINT

This journey hasn’t been easy. There have been stresses on our families and friends. And I am often reminded of a quote by Seattle entrepreneur Dan Shapiro about the challenges of work-life balance.

The load is intense and never ending. It can be hard to let go. I’ve fallen asleep with my laptop perched on my stomach on more than one occasion. (I write this post from a pub in Greenwood at 10 p.m. on Saturday night, my attempt to get out of the house and have a semblance of a social life).

But I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We’ve got the best jobs in the world, telling the stories of entrepreneurs, innovation and geek culture in one of the world’s most important technology centers. We also have wonderful partners (readers, guest columnists, developers, family, etc.) who are helping to not only make GeekWire possible, but provide that critical support system that every young venture needs.

GeekWire is a labor of love. A mission. A passion.

That said, there’s still so much to do. We often feel like we’re juggling 100 balls in the air at once. We fall behind on emails, stories, business requirements — trying to doggy paddle our way to the next day.

My family members have told me that it’s a marathon, to which I reply: “It’s a marathon, and a sprint.”

TeachStreet founder Dave Schappell put forth a challenge this week for Seattle’s tech community — including GeekWire — to raise its game. It was a not so subtle reminder of the importance of what’s at stake here.

We welcomed Schappell’s challenge. And as we enter our second month, we agree that it’s time to raise the game indeed.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

Editor’s note: This is an occasional look at what’s going on behind the scenes at the new technology news site. You can check out the full series here.

Comments

  • http://www.heinzmarketing.com Matt Heinz

    Congrats on a great start, guys. Exciting and terrifying at the same time most days, isn’t it? And doesn’t that make it awesome??

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft Mary Jo Foley

    Darn! Wish they had left you guys in! Very cool they called you, though!

  • http://www.puzzazz.com Roy Leban

    It is great seeing you guys live, breathe, and report on the startup life! Recognizing that it’s a marathon is an important milestone, and one that many startups and entrepreneurs (particularly first-time ones) don’t reach. You do want to get a good start, but if you think it’s just a sprint, you’re likely to burn out after the first 100 meters.

  • http://twitter.com/agilminer Adriana Gil Miner

    What a month!! Thanks for sharing the journey so far, definitely makes me a bigger a fan.

  • http://www.windermere.com Brett Eddy

    John/Todd, this is a great validation for the launch of Geekwire. The timing of the 60 Minutes article couldn’t have been more perfect (and you both communicated well on camera). To date, the Geekwire articles have been fresh, timely, and hip. Looking forward to a great year with you guys keeping the digerati informed.

  • Chet Brereton

    Great Stuff John. I hope you enjoy the ride.

  • http://twitter.com/hrhmedia Hanson Hosein

    Bah TV producers, what do they know? Congrats on all the success though guys. Inquiring minds need to know though: did you get a speeding ticket? Or did you pull the 60 Minutes card?

  • Anonymous

    Be careful….it’s a big trap for bloggers and writers who cover companies or industries to begin to think that they are the story. We read the blog because of the stories you write about the things you cover. You are not the news. Keep it humble.

    • johnhcook

      Agreed. And well said. This was certainly a special situation, and we were honored to have been chosen to share our insights.

      I don’t think you’ll see us turn into Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann or some other talking head.

      We are journalists first and foremost, and we love covering the Seattle tech scene, from small entrepreneurial ventures to the big guys like Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft. That’s job #1, and we appreciate you tuning in.

      john

      • http://www.puzzazz.com Roy Leban

        Yes, please don’t turn into Glenn Beck. Zero of him is quite enough. And certainly there are plenty of tech journalists who have decided they are somehow something more, that they should be the story or part of the industry itself. That doesn’t happen anymore than I become a journalist because I blog or contribute a guest piece.

        I agree with @ray, but I also think that being closer to the industry you cover makes you stronger.

  • Rossi

    John and Todd – you cleaned up pretty nice for TV! That was an excellent first month. I’m enjoying following the second, and third…

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