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John Cook, left, and Todd Bishop, right, interview T-Mobile CEO John Legere at the 2014 GeekWire Summit
John Cook, left, and Todd Bishop, right, interview T-Mobile CEO John Legere at the 2014 GeekWire Summit

Four years ago this week, we left our jobs at a big media company and launched GeekWire — determined to finally control our own destiny and build the technology news site and community that we had always envisioned.

We still have vivid memories of that sunny March day, signing the papers at our lawyer’s office and racing down the hill to our developer’s shop in Seattle’s Pioneer Square to push the button to launch GeekWire. (John jumped out and ran the last few blocks because the car just wasn’t moving fast enough.)

GeekWire's First Day
GeekWire’s First Day

We have been moving at a lightning pace at GeekWire ever since. We’ve published more than 17,000 stories, and our readers have posted nearly 80,000 comments. We’ve broken stories about Apple, SpaceX, Redfin, and many other companies. We’ve interviewed Paul Allen, Ray Ozzie, John Legere, Bill Gurley, and many other tech luminaries. We’ve hosted thousands of people at our events, ranging from small meetups to the annual GeekWire Summit.

Four years have flown by, with the typical ups and downs you encounter in a startup. But we’re still having a ball, doing our part to inform and spark this community of innovators, entrepreneurs and geeks who are trying to transform the world. We love telling their stories, and bringing them together.

Over the past four years, we have also witnessed lots of change in the media industry. This week, the tech world was surprised by the news about GigaOm, the longstanding and highly respected technology news site that suddenly closed its doors and turned its operations over to its creditors. We were disappointed, like everyone else who followed the site and its journalists. GigaOm invested in high-quality reporting, the same kind of coverage we strive to deliver.

Which raises the natural question: How is GeekWire doing? The short answer is, we’re doing well. GeekWire is profitable and growing, and we see tons of opportunity ahead.

We have a lot of work left to do, and many improvements to make, but GeekWire as a company is at an exciting moment in its history. Anything can happen, and we’re not taking anything for granted. But the stability of our business puts us in a unique position to take on new challenges and find new ways to serve the tech community.

A long-term approach

To put it another way: We’re not GigaOm. We respected their work as journalists, and many aspects of their operations. But we are very much in the camp of Danny Sullivan’s “SimCity” approach to running a media business — growing slow and steady, and building for the long-term.

GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato introduces Mayor Ed Murray at GeekWire Startup Day.
GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato at GeekWire Startup Day.

We were fortunate to start out in 2011 with an angel investment by veteran entrepreneur Jonathan Sposato, who continues to serve as GeekWire’s chairman and investor. But beyond that, we haven’t needed to raise any additional funding, even as we’ve grown to nine people across our core editorial and business teams.

We’ve been extremely careful about funding our growth through the business — including advertising, events, memberships and other revenue-generating initiatives.

This is a much different mentality, and it means making some trade-offs and difficult decisions. We debate whether out-of-town stories and events are worth the cost of a trip. Do we really need to spend $500 on a couch for the lobby? And yes, John is still driving his beat-up 1992 Honda Accord, plastered with GeekWire stickers and loaded with smelly soccer gear. (OK, so that probably won’t ever change, even if John wins the lottery.)

We’re grateful to all of you who make this possible — our readers, sponsors, members, event attendees and everyone else who supports GeekWire’s role in the Seattle tech community and beyond. We’re also very grateful to our wives and families for their support throughout this journey.

We rely on all of you, and we hope that you’ll stick with us as we grow and evolve in the years ahead. We also welcome your feedback, and encourage you to email us — or — if you have suggestions for how we could improve.

GeekWire is only as strong as the community around us.

What’s ahead for GeekWire

Front: Tricia Duryee, John Cook, Todd Bishopm Monica Nickelsburg. Back: Molly Brown (getting ready to jump on her bike), Daniel Rossi, Adam Rubens, Taylor Soper, and Blair Frank on video chat.
Front: Tricia Duryee, John Cook, Todd Bishop, Monica Nickelsburg. Back: Molly Brown (getting ready to jump on her bike), Daniel Rossi, Adam Rubens, Taylor Soper, and Blair Frank on video chat.

Over the past year, we’ve made steady progress, including the launch of a redesigned site last fall, built from scratch to replace the off-the-shelf WordPress template that we’d been using for more than three years. We’ve also expanded with our Geek Life section, full of fun and geeky posts.

We are extremely proud of the GeekWire editorial team: Taylor Soper, Tricia Duryee, Blair Hanley Frank, Molly Brown, and our regular columnists Monica Guzman and Frank Catalano (who has recently been stepping up to fill in during weeks when we need extra help in the newsroom). As our friend and collaborator Kevin Lisota remarked, today’s GeekWire team is a major upgrade from the days when it was just John and Todd reporting the news.

We’re also lucky to have a great business team. GeekWire’s Chief Business Officer Daniel Rossi is on the front lines of growing the business, and we’ll soon bring aboard a new member to the team, senior sales executive Adam Rubens, who will be joining us from Media West Travel Marketing. Our digital producer Monica Nickelsburg is an invaluable member of the team, bridging the news and editorial operations. We’re also fortunate to work with media partners KIRO Radio, KING-TV, and the event gurus at Proper Planning.

So what’s next? Earlier today, the GeekWire team gathered for lunch and birthday cupcakes at the GeekWire offices in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, talking about our vision for what’s ahead — including a strategy for expanding into additional coverage areas that will complement our existing coverage and serve readers in new ways.

This is a year of experimentation and growth at GeekWire. We’re moving out of the early-stage startup phase, and are looking at new ways to build the site and add more editorial muscle. We’re also trying new things on the business side, including the upcoming launch of an e-commerce and technology deals portal.

One thing won’t change as we grow. We are committed to building a sustainable media business that has core journalistic principles at our foundation — breaking news, providing in-depth analysis and covering stories that others aren’t telling. Of course, we love to have fun as well, and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. That playfulness will remain in our coverage and events as we move forward.

We also remain committed to Seattle, and the incredible transformation occurring in our city. In 2015, look for even more coverage of how “New Seattle” is emerging — for the better or worse — and what that means for those who live in this beautiful corner of the world.

In other words, we’re in this for the long haul. We are honored to play this role in the community, and we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We’re honored to have all of you join us on the next phase of this wild entrepreneurial ride. Just try to stay in your seat (unlike John!).

Editor’s note: Come celebrate four years of GeekWire on March 26 at the GeekWire Anniversary Bash & Ping Pong Tourney. Tickets available here

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