SiliconFilter

Twitter Acquires Posterous

/

Twitter just announced that it has acquired Posterous, the popular minimalist blogging service. Posterous' services will remain up and running for the time being and the company's blog promises to "give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service." The Posterous team will join Twitter and will, according to today's announcement, work on "on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better."

Neither Twitter nor Posterous disclosed any financial details of this transaction. Since its launch, Posterous raised about $10 million. The company received its seed funding from Y Combinator in 2008.

Why Would Twitter Buy a Blogging Platform?

This is a relatively unusual acquisition for Twitter. Until now, the company has mainly acquired companies that were already producing products closely related to Twitter itself (including TweetDeck, for example). Posterous, on the other hand, is quite a departure from this. The service, which first made a name for itself by providing very minimalist blogging tools, isn't a clear fit for Twitter, so chances are the goal of this acquisition was more to hire the Posterous team than to integrate the blogging platform into Twitter. 

Even though Posterous was one of the first players in this field of minimalist/short form blogging tools, Tumblr quickly became the more popular platform. While Posterous tried to reinvent itself over the last few months, the service was never quite able to match its competitor's traction, though judging from most of the publicly available traffic data, the service was still growing slowly but steadily.

What Will Happen to Posterous?

Twitter says that the Posterous service will "remain up and running without disruption." At the same time, though, the company also notes that it will give users "ample notice" if it makes any changes to the service and that it will provide users with instructions for backing up their data and moving to another service. Chances are then, that Twitter isn't planning on keeping Posterous up and developing its features for too long. 



12:50 pm


The Golden Age of Tech Blogging Is Just Getting Started

/

Given that the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is usually very slow in the tech blogging world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jeremiah Owyang’s linkbait post about the end of the “Golden Age of Tech Blogging” is getting its fair share of attention today. My old boss Marshall Kirkpatrick and former TechCrunch writer Sarah Lacy already wrote some pretty good rebuttals of Owyang’s ideas, but I want to add a few thoughts to this discussion as well.

Owyang argues that there are four trends that show the end of this era (though he never fully defines what that “Golden Age” actually looked like). Let’s take a closer look at these, as I don’t think they work as signs for the end of this first era of tech blogging.

1) Corporate acquisitions stymie innovation

Owyang argues that as TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb have now been bought, the age of innovation in tech blogging is over. Nothing could be further from the truth, I would argue. The fact that these sites were acquired simply shows that some smart investors think there is money to be made in this market.

And what was the last big innovation to come out of TechCrunch or ReadWriteWeb anyway?

2) Tech blogs are experiencing major talent turnover

I’m not going into the details why ReadWriteWeb, for example, lost plenty of its writers in 2010 (including myself), but it’s obvious that lots of writers moved around last year. Again – I’m not sure how that’s a sign of how the “Golden Age of tech blogging” has passed. It simply means that writers moved to places where they could earn more money, get more benefits and better support from editors. If anything, that means the Golden Age of tech blogging for the writers themselves is still going strong, as there is clearly a market for them.

3) The audience needs have changed, they want: faster, smaller, and social

That’s not a new trend. What’s worth noting, though, is that the attention, if it really has shifted, has shifted more towards the aggregators like Techmeme. Owyang also uses Mashable as an example of a blog that has shifted its strategies in the face of these trends. I would argue that Mashable long ceased to be a tech blog.

4) As space matures, business models solidify –giving room for new disruptors

This is, of course, true in every business. Given that the cost of entry into the tech blogging world is close to zero (or $20/month for a hosting account), there has always been space for disruptors. Tech blogging isn’t an easy business, though (or an easy beat, for that matter), so we have seen relatively few people try to disrupt the business from the outside.

Oddly enough, Owyang also argues that “long gone is the scrappy new media entrepreneurs like Arrington who built a decent sized empire, cashed out, and moved on to to a traditional industry like venture capital.” This, of course, makes little sense, given that Arrington only cashed out a year ago, those at ReadWriteWeb who had equity only cashed out two or three weeks ago and that there are plenty of sites that could still cash out nicely in the future.

We’re just Getting Started

Basically then, I don’t agree that any of Owyang’s points demonstrate that the “Golden Age” of tech blogging is over. I do agree that we are at a turning point, though, but for very different reasons. I think the slow decline of ReadWriteWeb over the last year and a half, the high turnover at TechCrunch and a general sense of instability in the tech blogging world and the rising importance of the aggregators is opening up the door for disruptors large and small.



10:31 pm


Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Blog Ahead of its BUILD Conference

/

While it’s no secret that Microsoft is working hard on getting Windows 8 ready for a beta launch and while the company has shown a few snippets of the new user interface here and there, exact details about its internals and what the full experience will look like remain rare. Today, however, Microsoft’s president of the Windows and Windows Live division Steven Sinofsky announced the launch of a new company blog that will keep consumers and customers updated about the state of Windows 8.

Sinofksy: “Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices”

As Sinofsky notes, Microsoft wants to use this blog to have an “open dialog with those […] who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months.” It’s widely expected that Microsoft will make an early beta version of Windows 8 available to its developers at its Windows-centric BUILD conference next month.

There isn’t too much that is new in Sinofsky’s blog post. He mostly reiterates what Microsoft has already publicly stated about Windows 8. Here are some of the highlights: [list]

  • Microsoft is “100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold.”
  • “Computing is much more focused on applications and on people than on the operating system itself or the data. These changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience”
  • “In the next weeks we will just start talking specifics of features, since there is no obvious place to start given the varying perspectives. From fundamentals, to user interface, to hardware support, and more, if something is important to you, we promise we’ll get to it in some form or another.”
  • “Our focus on performance, reliability, compatibility, security, and quality is now baked into our engineering process even as we change Windows for a new generation. With these changes come new ways of doing work on Windows PCs as well as continual investments in hardware, software, and peripherals.” [/list]

Still, it’s good to see that Microsoft is ready to talk more openly about Windows 8 now. This will help it to keep rumors in check and potentially build some excitement around Windows 8. The early glimpse at the UI we got earlier this year was promising, but also still felt more like a skin on top of Windows 7 than a new operating system. This early demo also focused strongly on the touch screen experience and barely touched upon what the regular interface would look like on a mainstream desktop.

After the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft was widely criticized for soliciting feedback from users during the beta phase without taking a lot of it into account. Hopefully, things will be a bit different this time around.



9:32 pm


Calacanis to Challenge TechCrunch: "The World Really Wants Deeper Stuff Right Now"

/

According to the Guardian, serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis plans to launch a new tech blog in early 2011. With this project, Calacanis plans to challenge TechCrunch, the influential Silicon Valley-based blog run by his old nemesis Mike Arrington. According to the report, Calacanis plans to hire a small number of editors. These writers will have the freedom to do in-depth research and will only have to file one story per week.

While Calacanis says that these stories will go out over email and won’t run on a dedicated blog, chances are that he will do both in the long run in order to profit from the valuable ad sales for the email newsletter and the online ad sales that are keeping the current generation of tech blogs afloat. Calacanis will also host a new startup conference early next year that will challenge TechCrunch’s highly successful Disrupt conference.

“The Tech Blogging Scene is in a Race to the Bottom”

In his interview with the Guardian, Calacanis claims that he is not trying to challenge the existing tech blogs on their own field, but that he is “going for something that doesn’t exist in the market – not a blogger writing the story in two hours. The world really wants deeper stuff right now.” He also notes that “the tech blogging scene is in a race to the bottom and is dragging mainstream media down with it.”

Those are fighting words. Blogs like TechCrunch and others have made their name by rushing stories to their readers as fast as possible – sometimes at the expense of depth and analysis. Indeed, the reality of tech blogging is that very few authors actually have the time to spend two hours on a story. Breaking news stories often take less than 15 minutes before they appear on TechCrunch, the Next Web or ReadWriteWeb. Clearly, there is an audience for these stories, but Calacanis is betting that the market also wants more depth, knowledge and thoroughness (a mix we strive for over on ReadWriteWeb).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the marketplace. Starting a new tech publication is not easy, given how many players there already are today. With his successful e-mail list and high name recognition, Calacanis clearly has an advantage over smaller editorial startups and his best work has always been in developing editorial concepts. Even Calacanis’s biggest detractors have to admit that he has created a number of successful startups in the past and should not be underestimated, especially now that his motivation is to challenge his old arch-nemesis Arrington. We have not seen a lots of newcomers on the tech blogging scene in the last two years (let alone in the tech mailing list scene), but if anybody has a chance to make a difference in this business it is likely Calacanis.

Image Credit: Joi Ito



10:51 am