After Three Years @TechCrunch, Some Lessons Learned

Three

Today marks my 3-year anniversary of working for TechCrunch. I promised a post about it on Twitter, so here goes.

Three years ago, I wrote my first two blog posts for TechCrunch, as a part-timer back then (but actually working full-time). They were pretty awful posts, in hindsight, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at mastering the tech blogging game over the years.

I’ve typed my way onto a not-so-long list of well-read technology business writers; it may not mean much to you, but I’m pretty proud I made it to the top 10 on the Techmeme author ranking. 

As I’m sure everyone knows, TechCrunch started out of Mike Arrington’s house and grew consistently every single month after its launch, to end up getting acquired by AOL a little over six years later. By the time I started, there were already a few writers on the team, but I remember very well that it felt very much like any scrappy startup when I first joined. It was fun.

I’ve actually worked from Mike’s house for a couple of days when I flew out to California for the first time in my life, a few years ago (that’s a story for another day), and later from their office in Palo Alto. Ironically, I haven’t had the chance to visit TC’s current office in San Francisco yet.

It’s been a great, although at times rather stressful three years in which I’ve worked very hard, learned a ton, wrote literally thousands of blog posts, didn’t sleep remotely enough for my own good, met with and talked to thousands of tech startup founders, industry execs, entrepreneurs and investors, read an insane amount of emails, other blog posts, news articles, essays, books and press releases, and traveled intensively – mostly in Europe but also to the United States – to attend, speak and moderate panels at conferences, events, summits, parties and whatnot.

Since you probably don’t really care who I’ve met, how hard I’ve worked and where I’ve traveled to over the years (ok: Prague, Helsinki, Barcelona, Aarhus, Dublin, San Francisco + Bay Area, Amsterdam, Oslo, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tampere, New York, Istanbul, London, Geneva and Sevilla), I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned to date:

Tech blogging is easy. And very hard.

Pretty much anyone can become a tech blogger. Seriously. But to get noticed, let alone become a successful tech blogger, you’ll need to work very hard for a long time, have a tremendous level of passion for technology and startups, read and learn as much as you humanly can, and be willing to make some mistakes along the way.

If you want to do this type of work day in, day out, you’ll have to be super passionate actually. It isn’t that much different from entrepreneurs building a new business from scratch (although with less risk involved, admittedly).

But once you know how the game works, it gets easy. Sometimes too easy (I have to admit it gets boring at times).

Bloggers screw up sometimes. ‘Real’ tech reporters and journalists do too.

TechCrunch is about being fast and accurate. On rare occasions, we’ll be fast but not 100% accurate, and then we’ll quickly edit, correct, move on, break some more news, and move on again. We are as professional at this trade as anyone, even if we do mistakes from time to time. All journalists do, without exception.

I’ve seen highly praised, ‘famous’ tech reporters goof, repeatedly. I’ve witnessed big media companies like the NYT and WSJ get things completely wrong (most of the times they correct, but not always, and not always with disclosure of edits that were made). I’ve seen big names in media report stories that were broken by bloggers – at TechCrunch or smaller sites – without a hint of attribution or acknowledgment.

We’re all people. At some point, we should just admit that and all start adhering to ‘radical transparency’ in everything we do.

Entrepreneurs seem to be the same breed, everywhere you go.

Being an entrepreneur is hard. Very hard. Much harder than being a tech blogger. But the more you travel and meet with entrepreneurs and startup founders, the more you realize people busting their asses over in Silicon Valley aren’t that different from people busting their asses over in Tel Aviv, Finland or Spain. In fact, they’re all alike.

Enterpreneurship to me is all. about. passion. Screw access to capital, exit potential, proper education, networking and whatnot. It all starts with someone trying to make a change in the world, whether it’s on a little or a big scale, and finding the right people to come along with them for the ride.

Their businesses, target markets, revenue projections, strategic plans and experience will differ, all over the place actually, but the passion of true entrepreneurs I can spot from a mile away. And they’re the same type of people, anywhere one travels. 

These are some of the big things I’ve learned over the past three years. There are lots of small things I’ve learned, too, but it’s surprisingly hard to fit it into a blog post.

One thing is for sure: aside from all the places I’ve been able to travel to, and all the people I’ve met, what I’ve learned over the past few years is definitely what I’m most grateful for.

So once again, thank you Mike Arrington for giving me the chance to ride the TechCrunch wave. It’s been fun and a privilege.

(Picture credit goes to Flickr user Bekathwia)

 

 

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7 thoughts on “After Three Years @TechCrunch, Some Lessons Learned

  1. Loved the article. I bet there are some awesome stories to tell from the scrappy startup years. Who of the old-timers will be first with the (auto)biography, I wonder!?

  2. I remember meeting you for the first time at Plugg in brussels, which you had organized (pre TC if I’m not mistaken). That passion was already all over you… Cant believe it’s already more than 3 years ago. Congrats.

  3. A great story about what is definitely an amazing journey :)I especially like how you describe entrepreneurs; their pace and the passion that’s their main fuel (no argument here). It’s a fascinating world to live in, in a exciting time… and to be thankful for the opportunity to follow your passion and vision.

  4. Sorry to be a party-crasher but I have to point out that "being willing to make mistakes" is not free-pass to acting like a jerk when you drop the ball, then failing(repeatedly) to anything about it as soon as you get the opportunity.That is the point when ‘blogging’ becomes nothing more than PR ‘words’ and loses all integrity whatsoever.Robyn, how about you get with intimate with a little of the "radical transparency" juice you were touting upstairs and come-clean about your hero Arrington’s habit for deleting uncomfortable posts on his blogs?I was one of the issues I (and other readers of TC) raised that you keep ignoring, just in case you forgot.Am I wrong, but is creating a virtual echo-chamber in your own blog whilst claiming transparency a little bit of a ‘porky’ (read: blatant LIE)?BTW: Do you know ‘who I am’ now or do I have to send you a DNA sample?

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