I’ve tried many times over the years to kick my habit of checking in numerous times a day to see what’s on Techmeme. I’ve always failed.
Because I was an early fan of Gabe Rivera and his approach to aggregating and ranking news (and rumors) that are trending on the corner of the web where I hang out, I’ve seen a long parade of startups and giant companies launch things that were going to be techmeme-killers. Of course, that means none of the techmeme-killers did the -kill thing.
Today, the New York Times has a feature on Techmeme (with cameo appearances by the other “meme” sites from Gabe that follow politics, entertainment, baseball and media news).
It’s one of those kinds of stories I sometimes jokingly refer to on this blog and on Twitter as “love letters.” It is a glowing piece — about as glowing as Gabe’s face is from the reflection of his computer monitor’s screen in the photo accompanying it.
I could point out some of the downsides of Techmeme, for example, the way some people seem to write “for it” — so that certain voices are systematically (or, algorithmically) seem to have too much influence on what is news. As I’ve talked with Gabe about this on several occasions, I know he’s committed to finding ways — including human intervention — to address the games people play to influence his algorithms.
But my point in blogging about this is not to say, “yeah, but.” My point is to note that this is the kind of technology “start-up” story I trust in the New York Times.
It is NOT one of those kind of NYT stories that appears about a company you’ve never heard of, that hasn’t yet developed a product — but just happens to be an idea from some notable people who have had previous success (and access to New York Times writers) — are useless. Pre-launch coverage in the NYT is often the worst thing that can happen to a startup. Early failures (the kind any startup must face) are better addressed in obscurity, I believe.
Gabe has been working on Techmeme, et al. (Indeed, his political site, Memeorandum, was launched before Techmeme) for what seems to be like forever — at least six years that I can recall.
I’m sure he’s turned down lots of offers from big companies who would have totally screwed up what he and two others are capable of doing (and, for most of those years, just him).
He has stayed independent and built what I feel certain is a very profitable business by doing it his way — including low overhead.
I like that. And I like Gabe.
Oh, and I like that when something I write makes it to Techmeme, it drives more traffic to this blog than anything else I do. (But I still don’t write about stuff “just because it’s on Techmeme.”)
Congratulations, Gabe. Well deserved.