Over your shoulder, TechCrunch
You’ve been top of the TechMeme leaderboard for quite a while. Here comes Business Insider.
As far as I am concerned, TechCrunch have always deserved their position at the top. Their closeness to the startup scene gave them their edge (plenty of scoops and insights: who’s going to be the next FaceBook, Apple, Google or Microsoft etc.) when they took over the lead from the previous tech news leaders, the gadget sites, Engadget and Gizmodo, which (as I recall, long ago, perhaps before TechMeme, I’m not certain) had in turn taken the lead (how did we measure this in those days?) away (by having a faster flow, using ‘human curated aggregation’ and a more zeitgeisty attitude) from the established tech news publishers like ZD/CNET.
So does Business Insider’s ascendance (which by the way, is just an intuition of mine) mean that the focus of tech news is at a new inflection point? Is it really all about ‘broadening the base’ such that the ‘startup scene savvy’ tech reporter’s perspective is being applied (by Business Insider) to a wider range of news topics than just tech news? Is it that both tech news and non-tech news stories are being covered by reporters with a combination of that startup scene savvy and ‘financial analyst input’? If so, this seems to be going beyond what TechCrunch does.
What Business Insider’s market penetration strategy seems to be, is to try to make a wider range of business news stories more interesting to tech news audiences and also to make a wider range of tech news more interesting to ‘slightly less tech-attentive’ business news audiences. In addition, the aim would also be to make a wider range of (non-tech and non-business) news stories appealing to tech news audiences by offering a ‘shared affinity perspective’: ‘the rest of life’ (e.g., sports) as seen from the viewpoint of writers manifestly interested in the same things as their tech, startup and innovation investment conscious readers (and also, by the way, viewers: the video content lends itself (in terms of accessibility) perfectly to this ‘broadening of reach’ effort, something which Business Insider and almost everyone else on the news scene seems to recognise these days).
So, what of TechCrunch now? Well, talking of video, I have watched a few of theirs, and what I saw (which was actually quite riveting) seemed to me to point the way. They can go for extra depth, probing the (as yet only superficially covered) deeper recesses of the startup scene, perhaps differentiating themselves from Business Insider by, instead of focussing quite as strongly upon the financial side of the startups, probing even more deeply into personal experiences of such things as accelerators, mentoring, development nightmares, pivoting crises, founder to funder transitions, etc.
On the other hand, they could decide to try and do what Business Insider is doing and see if they can beat them at their own game. I suspect this would need some serious investment.