Traditionally, that role has been filled by trade publications like InfoWorld and, once-upon-a-time, PC Magazine. But in the Internet age, they’ve largely become irrelevant for the professional market. CNET seemed to hold that mantle for a while, but they’ve struggled to balance between software applications and personal technology and have been in a downward spiral this year.
For those involved in application development for the web, the place to turn for relevant, updated information is Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch blog. Initially begun as a hobby, the blog today serves up more than a million page views per month and has more than 140,000 subscribers to its RSS feed. According to a Wall Street Journal interview of Arrington, the site today generates more than $120k per month from a combination of advertising, on-line job postings, sponsorships and hosting parties. That’s all with a staff of three. TechCrunch leverages John Battelle’s Federated Media ("FM") to secure advertisers, so the only staff they need is editorial, resulting in a minimalist cost structure.
TechCrunch has also caused a phenomena often referred to as the TechCrunch Effect. Sites profiled on TechCrunch see a significant and immediate increase in traffic, often seeing 5-10% of the TechCrunch audience visit or register within a 24-hour period. Looking at their impact through another lens, Metrics 2.0 suggests that Web 2.0 applications profiled on TechCrunch will receive roughly $1 Billion in venture funds in 2006. As of early November, 62 such startups have received more than $855M (though Limelight Networks alone accounts for $130M of that).
I’ll leave it to Brad Feld and others to debate whether the TechCrunch effect is good or bad (as in Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, these early adopters may not be the customer base you should target your application to), but it’s clear that TechCrunch is having a huge impact.
Will CNET concede their spot to TechCrunch? Not without a fight. CNET has just launched a new blog site, Webware, led by editor Rafe Needleman, who will also tap four other CNET writers and editors. The site is not as focused as TechCrunch, but is sure to improve over time. In the meantime, TechCrunch has shown that a nimble blog can secure a dominant position in a competitive market. And for that, TechCrunch is clearly one of the fifty content companies that matter.