For the last couple months, John Cook and I have had the pleasure of getting to know Taylor Soper as he has become a key member of the GeekWire team, bringing new energy to our coverage of the Seattle tech world and beyond. He’s already written more than 130 posts for GeekWire on a wide variety of topics. (Not that we’re counting!)
In short, it’s long past time for us to formally introduce GeekWire’s new staff reporter to the rest of you.
First, a quick note about the significance of this position for us. We’re fortunate to work with many great contributors and freelancers, but as a startup we pride ourselves in being lean, smart and efficient, and Taylor is our first full-time editorial hire since we founded GeekWire in March 2011. (Yes, hard to believe, but it hasn’t even been two years.) It’s an important milestone for us to bring aboard another everyday staffer to report stories along with John and me. We searched for months and considered a ton of great candidates.
This is one of many exciting changes we have in store. Geekwire has exceeded our expectations on so many levels. It’s still early, but we’ve got a lot of cool stuff coming up. Stay tuned for new features, and more, in the months ahead.
We’ve already started seeing positive effects from having Taylor here, not just from the stories he’s digging into but from the enthusiasm and creativity he brings to the newsroom and takes out into the field. It’s no coincidence that October was our highest month for traffic ever.
Taylor grew up in the Portland area and is a 2012 graduate of the University of Washington, where he double-majored in journalism and business administration.
He’s a veteran of The Daily, the UW student newspaper, where he held positions including sports editor, sports multimedia producer, and development editor leading The Daily’s intensive 10-week training program for student journalists. He also created and served in the new position of social media producer in his final months at the student paper, beefing up and shaping The Daily’s Facebook and Twitter strategy.
Off campus, Taylor was an associate reporter for MLB.com, covering the Mariners and writing as many as five stories a day for the team’s website — great training for the quick-turnaround, deadline reporting that’s critical on the technology beat.
Before joining us, Taylor worked nights on the Seattle Times sports desk. He’s also an avid golfer.
Taylor has a natural interest in technology, and he has repeatedly shown his ability to dig into interesting stories — such as the breakthrough that could triple the capacity of lithium ion batteries; the new Boeing missile that fries computers with microwaves; and the fascinating tale of a Seattle startup that aims to provide the equivalent of Yelp and Consumer Reports for medical marijuana.
He has also has a knack for video production, and he knows how to have fun with it. My personal favorite so far is the time he stood outside the University Village Apple Store showing iPad fans a new Windows 8 tablet, or the time he went to a Sounders match to test the loyalty of the team’s fans to their title sponsor, Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
Taylor will be covering a wide range of topics for GeekWire but also focusing in part on the business of video games — helping to improve our coverage of a key industry for the Seattle region’s technology community. We’re also looking forward to having him as a regular on the GeekWire radio show and podcast.
Even as John and I have been helping Taylor get up to speed on the tech beat, he has been pushing us to think more creatively. For example, his enthusiasm and questions have played a big role in shaping my approach to covering the Windows 8 launch through our “Microsoft Surface Diary” series. John and Taylor both tend to be night owls, and I’ll often wake up to some great email threads where they’ve been brainstorming ideas, sharing links and posting into the early morning hours.
To help GeekWire readers get to know Taylor in his own words, I asked him to fill out some of the questions from our standard Geek of the Week questionnaire. Here are the printable highlights from his responses … the ones where he wasn’t making fun of me. (Yes, he’s fitting in well.)
Ideal day? Wake up and put the final touches on an incredible story that people love, post it on social media so I can follow the response, play a round of 18 holes, play with my dog for an hour, go out for fresh sushi, watch an athletic event, play a few video games, then go where ever the night takes us. Damn that sounds good.
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Journalism isn’t dying. The mediums are changing, and actually, journalism is getting stronger.
Where do you find your inspiration? Reading/watching/consuming content that is incredibly impressive, that you know took so much work and investment. Always keeps you humble and shows that you have more work to do to get better. That, and watching Remember the Titans or Rudy.
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. Balance is everything: work hard, but not too much that you go crazy. Also, laugh and smile.
Best Gadget Ever: The first iPod. The wheel actually spun. Don’t know why they got rid of this.
First Computer: Dell with dial-up internet. I can remember sitting there and having my father teach me how to log into cyberspace with the good ol’ dial-up noise blaring in the background.
Greatest Game in History: SOCOM II, Grand Theft Auto Vice City or GoldenEye.
Current Phone: HTC G2 — Still love my sliding physical keyboard.
Favorite App: Easy Voice Recorder — I’m a journalist.
Mac, Windows or Linux? Windows, but Mac is trying to adopt me.
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Janeway. She’s got that swag.
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine to the future. I would go check out what journalism looks like and deliver the news back to GeekWire HQ. I’d also scout the best NBA players, come back to reality and go tell Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen who to draft.
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? Electric toothbrush. You mean there was a time where we actually had to move our hands back-and-forth to brush teeth?
Most important technology of 2012: SmartGlass or just the Surface itself.
Most important technology of 2015: New toilets. Go to Japan, put your butt on the seat and feel the warmth. Heated toilet seats. Now that’s groundbreaking technology.
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Talent is an incredible thing, but working your ass off can take anyone anywhere. And study up on whoever or whatever you aspire to be. See what they did to develop that software, to produce that content, to think of that idea. So much to be learned.
Please join us in welcoming Taylor Soper to GeekWire. Follow him on Twitter @Taylor_Soper and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to join John, Taylor and me (plus GeekWire’s Jonathan Sposato, Rebecca Lovell, Emily Shahan) at our next event, the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 6.