Three Years of Tech.pinions

on July 4, 2014

Since today is an off day, at least for most Americans, I thought I would write something reflecting on what I have learned since starting Tech.pinions just over three years ago. On June 2nd, 2011 I published this post on Apple and their competitive advantage and Tech.pinions was born.

Some Background

My idea for the site came from a previous years work I did with a company called R3 media which owns Slashgear.com and Androidcommunity.com. I met their team a couple of years prior at CES and they asked if I was interested in writing a column for them on the tech landscape. I jumped at the chance because, up to that point, I had no real public outlet for my thoughts. As many of you know, the role of an industry analyst is to provide content by way of analysis, reports, and more to executives internally at major corporations. Rarely have industry analysts contributed to the public forum. My father, throughout most of his career going back to the early 80’s, has been one of the few to have regular public contributions to flagship technology outlets. Personally, I had wanted to write more in a public forum but needed an outlet. Slashgear provided that opportunity.

During the course of my writing for Slashgear, the team asked if I would be interested in getting more involved and helping them grow the company, both in readership and in revenue. I thought it would make for a nice new challenge since I had never spent much time analyzing the business of blogging/publishing. I agreed and spent many months focusing on growth tactics, mainly around advertising. During this time, I also did a full competitive analysis of all the leading tech blogs. It was from this work the idea for Tech.pinions emerged.

As many readers of popular blogs will recognize, there is not a great deal of original long form content. Most tech news consist mostly of the “reporting” of the news, which is a good thing. But not much of what exists at those sites is original long form posts by way of op-ed (opinion editorial). Interestingly, many other publishing industries have such a thing. Politics, sports fashion, and many other mainstream publications are built more on original content than just reporting news. My conviction was a technology focused site committed only to original editorial on the technology industry needed to exist. So I started it.

Our goal was never to compete on the news cycle but rather compete on the perspective or insight on the news. You can read the news anywhere but Tech.pinions exists for readers to come and get deeper perspective and insight on that news from industry insiders. All the while maintaining a high quality bar for our content. Ultimately, my goal was and is, the content found at Tech.pinions is useful at spurring thought, bringing up important and relevant issues and hopefully helping shape and form the industry going forward.

The Business

The only reason this site is possible is because the majority of our writers have day jobs and making money from the site is not necessary. The economics of our mission remains a challenge. After managing the advertising side of R3 Media, I made the decision advertising like that would never be our focus. To make money that way, you have to play a very different game and it wasn’t one I was willing to play. I, as a reader, hated blogs cluttered with a dozen useless “belly fat” ads getting in the way of my experience. This is why, from an advertising standpoint, we prefer the sponsorship model.

In writing for an executive audience, my focus has always been to add value to the reader. This is also my goal with Tech.pinions which is why we are more interested in pursuing things of value to the reader. Hence Tech.pinions Insiders was born. By following a membership/subscriber based model we can focus on the reader as our primary customer. Plus, where else can you get industry analysis from some of the most sought after industry analysts for $5 a month? (Although, I’m told by members I need to raise the price but I am still hesitant)

Perhaps one of the most interesting things to me that has come out of this site is the conversation that happens on each column by some of the smartest commenters around. I continually get feedback from industry executives that read our site on how impressed they are with our comment section. It is rare you find a place online where smart and civil discourse can exist and be fostered. This is perhaps one of, if not the most, gratifying thing for me about our site. I’m fond of saying about our site, “Come for columns, stay for the comments”.

But I write this post, not just to give you context but to also ask for feedback. This site exists to add value to the public forum on tech and in no way do we have it all figured out. I’m always looking for ways to make the site, the content, and the experience better. As I reflect on what we have learned from the past three years, I’m more interested in where the next three years and beyond can take us. We are in a unique position to be able to focus on a different set of priorities than most publishing sites. As we think about where we can take Tech.pinions I’d love for our readers to chime in as well should you have any thoughts or feedback.