I am starting a new blog today called CrunchNotes.
I think the best way to start this blog is to talk about another blog I write, TechCrunch. I started TechCrunch on June 11, 2005 – about four and a half months ago. The focus of TechCrunch is to profile new web 2.0 companies. There are a lot of them, way more than I can write about. I write about the companies that capture my attention or that I feel add to the overall “discussion” in some way. The web is an ecosystem and every new application, blog, picture and even email address that is added affects the whole in some way.
TechCrunch is a hobby that has grown to an obsession. I have always loved startups, from my days representing them at Wilson Sonsini (a law firm), and through my adventures as an entrepreneur. I know what drives entrepreneurs and I know how to talk to and about them. I am deeply honored every time someone takes the time to tell me about their company, their passion.
There are two people that are directly responsible for me starting TechCrunch.
The first person is Keith Teare, my business partner and longtime friend. Keith was the first person to show me a feed reader in action (it was bloglines), and pointed me to the early blog posts that shaped my thinking on what the web is up to these days. Even though I’m crazy, Keith sees some value in keeping me around, and his patience in teaching me has been extremely valuable.
The second person is Dave Winer. I’ve been reading Dave’s blog since 2001, but only met him early this year when he hired Keith and me to help him sell Weblogs.com. In a meeting in New York in the spring, Dave said something to me which he probbly quickly forgot but which really stuck with me. He said “If you are going to build a new company, go to the trouble of actually researching what other companies have already done.” He was referring to the fact that new companies are launching literally every day, and evolution is occuring so fast that people are largely unable to know what else is going on around them as they build their products. He gave a specific example – RSS readers – noting that there were so many and they were all re-inventing the same features over and over again.
I took Dave’s advice very seriously, and began to research every company I could find. I started with Technorati and Bloglines, and went from there. Within a week I realized that there was no good blog or other reference site for these companies, and that the research I was doing could be put to good use. So I started TechCrunch and started writing about the companies that I was studying.
The site grew slowly at first. I remember my excitement when I first reached a number of RSS subscribers that was higher than the number of feeds I read daily. When TechCrunch hit about 500 readers I realized the crude design was holding it back. I hired Fred Oliveira to redesign the site. Clearly, a cleaner and more usable design was a good thing. Readership continued to grow.
Another high point was when Cnet named TechCrunch a top 100 blog. Readership sure jumped that day.
So, why am I starting CrunchNotes? The main reason is that I find that sometimes, I want to talk about more than just new companies and products. Sometimes I have something to say about what’s going on in the blogosphere or the world. Sometimes I want to link to something interesting another blogger has written, but which has nothing to do with new companies. I found that doing that on TechCrunch tends to dilute the core value of that blog.
And so I am starting CrunchNotes, a companion blog to TechCrunch. It’s a place that I can write about things that interest me but that doesn’t belong on TechCrunch.