Techmeme now publishing paid and free "Leaderboards" showing the most influential reporters around a specific news topic
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Permalink
Today Techmeme has begun publishing Topic Leaderboards, which list the top authors and publications covering topic areas such as cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, and cryptocurrency, with additional topics to come. While this information will interest reporters and editors, it will be especially useful to communications professionals who need a way to identify the reporters covering a particular technology news category, or founders and other startup employees who have the same need.
How Topic Leaderboards are ranked
These new leaderboards are ordered to highlight the most influential and prolific authors covering a specific topic area. In this way, they're similar in format to the leaderboards we've offered for years, which ranked authors and publications for all Techmeme news rather than individual topics. We're therefore calling these new lists leaderboards as well, and they now reside at the same URL.
However, there's a key difference in how these new leaderboards are ordered versus our general leaderboards: Topic Leaderboard ranking is not based on the frequency of Techmeme front page placement. Instead, taking advantage of Techmeme's rich crawl data and sophisticated topic-tagger, Topic Leaderboards are based on, first, the quantity of links to articles on that topic from peers and influential industry people in social media, and second, the total number of articles on the topic that an author or publication posts. In short: being well-cited and prolific on the topic leads to a higher ranking.
Introducing Topic Leaderboard reports
How are Topic Leaderboards presented? Each topic gets a report, which is essentially the pairing of an author leaderboard and a publication leaderboard for that topic. The author leaderboard will typically include 100 or more ranked authors, and each author entry will consist of a name, a Twitter profile link if available (useful for obtaining contact details), associated publication(s), an influence score based on inbound link volume, and a short list of headlines showing some of the best recent contributions on that topic from the writer. The publication leaderboard comes next in the report, offering similar ranking details. Reports draw on the past four months of crawl data and are updated weekly, ensuring the data we provide stays timely even as authors develop or switch their beats, get hired, and change jobs.
Paid reports: Obtaining an extensive list of the best reporters for discussing launches or general relationship-building based on meaningful signals and data can be an enormous time-saver. In fact, many PR agencies and companies already devote considerable resources to the not-so-fun task of compiling information for this purpose, a process that's often more manual and qualitative than data-driven. Meanwhile, subscription PR tools that purport to organize reporters by topic are often woefully inadequate and even inaccurate, sending PR pros to the wrong reporters with frustration ensuing on both sides. To account for the value provided by these leaderboards, and to give Techmeme its first paid content offering, most Topic Leaderboards are available as paid downloads. They'll be sold individually for an introductory price of $100 each, though this price may increase as we introduce even more useful data into these reports. A purchase will give the buyer the opportunity to download in both html and pdf formats up to five times (to permit access on multiple devices).
Free reports: We also offer several free reports, covering some of the more buzzy tech news topics (for instance: Facebook and iPhones), and plan to continue doing so indefinitely. If you're wondering what our paid reports look like, just look through the free options and assess how much value you see in this format.
We want feedback!
Today, we're launching with just 20 paid and 4 free reports, but plan to grow the number of topics in the months ahead. Be sure to check back periodically to see what we've added. And if you don't see the topics you're most interested in, we'd love to hear from you. Please leave a suggestion here (there are no bad suggestions!). Second, do you have other informational needs that you believe Techmeme's crawl data may be uniquely suited to addressing? Please let us know your thoughts by emailing us .
Thank you, and now a Q&A
At Techmeme, we're thrilled to find new ways to analyze and summarize information to empower people in the industry, just as we've done all along with our news aggregation. As always, thanks for reading, and we hope you find our new offerings valuable. To conclude, here are some answers to questions some of you will have:
Automatically respond to news topics on Techmeme with our new contextual ads
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Permalink
Today, Techmeme is introducing ads that are automatically placed under stories matching news topics that an advertiser wants to target. They're a great way to associate your brand with a specific category of technology products, or even to challenge individual companies.
For instance, Yelp is now advertising against news about Google, to urge the search giant to “Focus on the User”. Crypto wallet maker BRD is targeting news about cryptocurrency to tell Techmeme readers about its free, open-source app. And cloud enterprise software maker Freshworks will target CRM news to highlight Freshsales.
Why is Techmeme the right venue for ads that react to news in this way? Because it's where readers go to see ideas in conflict. Techmeme is, after all, the arena where industry-driven news meets critical reaction and analysis. So by letting companies speak out and confront issues in this manner, we provide an additive, even entertaining experience for readers.
The benefit for advertisers from these ads should be clear enough. First, the “direct response” aspect can help companies meet immediate signup goals. But the brand associations that arise from such assertive messaging can be vivid and lasting. After all, if you can position yourself as the antidote to a well-known problem, why not take that opportunity? And the quality of Techmeme's decision-maker and “influencer”-heavy audience can help ensure that effort is worthwhile.
How do these ads work? An advertiser supplies a message, an ad budget, and matching criteria. The matching criteria can be as simple as the mention of a company in a headline, or a broader news category such as cloud computing, cryptocurrency, security software, e-commerce, machine learning, or enterprise chat. Techmeme then matches against its posted stories, placing the advertiser's message until the total placement hours determined by the ad budget are fully delivered. To support this matching, we've built out a proficient topic-tagger backed by an extensive and expanding ontology (and we'll have more to say about that in a later post). I should note the possibilities for matches go even further than what's stated above. For instance, matching against arbitrary groups of companies or individuals, against geographic areas, or even against the news outlet that Techmeme features for a given story are easily doable.
Of course, there are limits to the sorts of messages we'll place. We'll decline to feature offensive or overly gimmicky ad copy. And we won't include negative ad messages aimed at current advertisers, in effect, guaranteeing a form of competitive separation.
If you're interested in contextual ads on Techmeme, don't hesitate to reach out at .
As the tech industry expands in reach and power, the value of contesting the dominant themes and challenging established players has grown proportionately. We're hoping these new ads can play a part, while also making Techmeme a more fun and intriguing read.
Sign up now for Techmeme's new daily newsletter
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Permalink
Today we're launching Techmeme's first newsletter. Sign up here! It goes out Sunday through Friday around 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern and, like Techmeme.com, summarizes the day's top tech news and commentary with an assortment of detailed headlines and links. But unlike Techmeme's website, it presents a simplified interface, offers an even more refined selection of tweets and Facebook posts, and organizes news by topic categories.
What does Techmeme's daily newsletter include?
- It begins with a rundown of tomorrow's events, including conferences and corporate earnings reports, pulled from the top of Techmeme's extremely useful event calendar.
- A "Top News" section then highlights the very biggest stories of the day, along with a short selection of commentary from Twitter and/or Facebook.
- News stories grouped by topic categories follow, like Funding Deals, Blockchain, or Infosec.
- A "More News" section then lists the rest of the day's stories of note.
Why does the universe need another tech newsletter?
While Techmeme's balance of breadth and brevity offers a unique lens on the news that tech industry readers have long found valuable, Techmeme's website hasn't served readers who live in their inbox. Obviously Techmeme's new newsletter can now serve these readers, but what isn't as clear is that it can even serve daily readers of the site in a key way. Why? Because visitors to Techmeme's website will miss out on news if they visit only once daily, given that news can fall off the page in fewer than 20 hours. Subscribing to Techmeme's newsletter will give these readers a convenient format for not missing a big story.
Another reason: as more specialized industry-oriented newsletters have grown in importance, the bigger-picture context that a Techmeme newsletter can provide is now vital. For instance, if you work in VC and find Dan Primack's newsletter essential for tracking which companies have raised capital, Techmeme's newsletter helps to flesh out the world in which those ventures need to compete. Or if you value the strategic insights Ben Thompson's newsletter offers, Techmeme's headlines provide the tick-tock account of the industry changes underpinning those insights. And if you read Casey Newton's newsletter for updates on how social networks are colliding with culture and governments, Techmeme's newsletter will help you see the ways social networks relate to rest of the industry.
More ways to get Techmeme
With this newsletter (sign up here!), Techmeme is now available on an ever broader variety of platforms. Most recently, we introduced The Techmeme Ride Home podcast. You can get every Techmeme headline in full in real time via our main Twitter account and every commentary tweet we include via our @TechmemeChatter account. Techmeme is also available on Facebook, and you can even get Alexa to read you Techmeme's top seven headlines.
Questions? Comments? Want to sponsor?
If you're interested in sponsoring, reach out at . Meanwhile, for general newsletter questions or comments, email .
And if you've waited until the end of this post to subscribe, that's fine, but it's now time to do the right thing and sign up here! Thank you!
You should immediately subscribe to Techmeme's new daily podcast
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Permalink
Today, we're introducing a daily podcast, Techmeme's first ever. It's called the Techmeme Ride Home, and publishes around 5pm Eastern Monday through Friday. In each episode, host Brian McCullough will run through the day's biggest tech stories in 15-20 minutes.
What's the new concept here? You might say it's Techmeme in podcast form:
2. We mention the publications we're drawing from.
3. We'll capture the commentary around the news. Yes, we'll even read select tweets!
Why should you listen to the Techmeme Ride Home? While several great tech podcasts discuss stories of the week, go deep on perennial topics like Apple, or focus on interviews, we need a podcast to relate the daily developments of an industry relentlessly expanding in size and importance. And even if you're an active Techmeme reader, the host's focus on news angles and internet commentary makes for a very additive experience to the news you're already seeing.
Speaking of which, who is Brian McCullough? He's racked up a ton of podcasting experience interviewing hundreds of web pioneers for the Internet History Podcast, a foundation for his upcoming book. I've been a fan for years.
So be sure to subscribe now. That way you'll get today's episode when it lands at 5pm Eastern, and also you'll be able to hear yesterday's episode right away for a sample of what's to come. Of course you can find us on iTunes and in players like Overcast. There's also this good old-fashioned RSS feed.
Finally, if you have questions, or think you might want to advertise, you can reach out at .
You can now add Techmeme's events list to your own calendar
by Gabe Rivera Permalink
As tech news events and industry conferences proliferate, Techmeme's events calendar has become an ever more vital resource for all sorts of technology professionals. Previously available only on the web, it's now available in iCalendar format, letting you automatically keep your Google, Apple, Outlook.com, or Yahoo calendar in sync. Moreover, any calendar software that lets you subscribe via iCalendar URLs should be compatible.
It bears explaining that Techmeme actually offers two calendars. There's the "newsy" events list shown on our front page. These are the events we expect to produce news on Techmeme. And then there's the complete list that includes many of the bigger industry events that are national or international in scope. Naturally, it contains all the events in the newsy list, and many more. We offer iCalendar URLs for both the newsy and the complete calendar, letting you subscribe to whichever based on how many events you desire.
How to add Techmeme's events to your calendar
To keep your calendar in sync with Techmeme's events, first copy one of these two URLs:
http://techmeme.com/newsy_events.ics (for newsy events)
http://techmeme.com/events.ics (for all events)
Then add depending on your calendar. Some popular ones:
- Google Calendar: find "Other calendars" on the left and click the arrow button to the right, click "Add by URL", paste URL into the "URL" box, then click "Add Calendar".
- Apple Calendar: click "File" menu, click "New Calendar Subscription…", paste URL in "Calendar URL" box, click "Subscribe", change "Auto-refresh" to "Every day", click "OK".
- Outlook.com calendar: click "Import" along the top, click "Subscribe" on the left, paste URL into the "Calendar URL" box, enter "Techmeme events" in "Calendar name" box, click "Subscribe".
- Yahoo Calendar: find "Actions" menu just above your calendar, click "Follow Other Calendars", enter "Techmeme events" in the top box, paste URL into "iCal Address" box, click "Continue".
What will Techmeme's events look like in my calendar?
Techmeme represents events as all-day events in the iCalendar format we publish. So a one-day event from 9am-5pm will be represented as an all-day event, and a three-day conference will be represented as an event spanning three full days. Although all-day events lack hourly precision, most people will appreciate this choice, as it keeps Techmeme's events nicely corralled in the all-day event area hovering above your daily schedule and not competing visually with your personal calendar events.
But there is one small gotcha: because events are listed by the date in the time zone in which they're held, confusion can result for users in the Americas referring to events in Asia-Pacific time zones, and vice versa. For example, if you live in the U.S. and it's the 24th there, an event listed as taking place on the 24th in Sydney actually occurred the day before. Likewise, if you live in Hong Kong and it's the 12th, a California-based event listed for the 12th won't happen until the following day for you. So be advised if you're keeping close watch on events happening on the other side of the international date line.
Interested in adding your event to Techmeme's calendar?
If our calendar is missing a major tech event, please let us know at . There's no cost to add an event to our complete list, and our criteria for inclusion is broad. (Still, we rarely include regional or evening events, or pages that merely announce a date.) If you want your event to appear on Techmeme's front page, we offer paid options. Paid events will appear both among the newsy events on our front page and in our complete calendar, and will sync with subscribers' calendars via the corresponding iCalendar formats.
What else can I promote on Techmeme?
Companies can promote blog posts and other announcements among our Sponsor Posts and can promote their job opening by listing in our "Who's Hiring" area. For more information, refer to this page, or email .
10 shocking (or at least interesting) facts about Techmeme on its 10th birthday
by Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Permalink
Techmeme launched on September 12, 2005 amid a flurry of blog posts from Robert Scoble, Richard MacManus, and several others. Friends and Techmeme team members have insisted we need to mark this anniversary, so I reluctantly wrote the following listicle, which now that I've finished, I am glad I wrote. Enjoy!
- Techmeme didn't launch with the name "Techmeme", or even its own top level domain. Instead, it launched as tech.memeorandum, the technology offshoot of memeorandum, an automated aggregator of news and commentary mainly around US politics. (memeorandum launched in January 2004 and still lives on today, but could probably use a redesign, rebranding, and editors.) On the day memeorandum's improved automated engine and redesign were announced, its sister site for tech news, tech.memeorandum went live on the subdomain tech.memeorandum.com. After tech.memeorandum quickly eclipsed memeorandum in traffic, it became clear it deserved its own domain, and moved to Techmeme.com the following May.
- Techmeme's original mission statement still holds up nicely today, allowing for a few addendums. The goals outlined here in 2005 (1. Recognize the web as editor, 2. Rapidly uncover new sources, and 3. Relate the conversation) endure even to this day. However, as Techmeme became the first stop for tech news for a growing and influential segment of the tech industry, other goals became imperative too. In particular: strive for comprehensive coverage of the day's most significant tech stories, and post big, breaking news story quickly.
- Although it has almost no direct competition today, Techmeme was reportedly beset by a legion of competitors for years. In the months after it launched, Techmeme was considered to be an exemplar among discovery and search services in the blogging space, a purportedly burgeoning industry. Moreover, its fully automated implementation at the time appeared on the surface to rely on a simple technological process (Step 1: Scan feeds … Step 2. Sort posts by inbound links.) Inevitably, an assortment of Techmeme-like sites was soon competing for attention. While a few sites were clearly imitators, others were, like Techmeme, iterations on ideas bubbling up at the time.
And so we would see TechCrunch comparing Techmeme (née tech.memeorandum) to services with names like Blogniscient, Megite, and Chuquet. Later the phrase "Techmeme Killer" would appear fairly regularly in headlines, most notably when Google itself introduced a would-be "Techmeme Killer". Even after Techmeme survived Google's Techmeme-killer, services like ePlatform and TechFuga would still elicit comparisons to Techmeme, while TechCrunch would later say of Tweetmeme, a Techmeme-like aggregator of tweets "If I were Gabe Rivera, I'd start worrying now".
As you can probably guess, each of the above services mentioned above (Google Blogsearch included) no longer exists.
Today, it's rare for a new service to come along that is considered to be direct competition for Techmeme, for a couple reasons. First, in the proceeding years, Techmeme introduced elements like human editing and rewritten headlines that made cloning more than just a problem of deploying code. Second, most media entrepreneurs now see more potential through other avenues. Unicorn valuations in media today are thought to be won through BuzzFeed-like strategies to attain BuzzFeed-level scale, not building another industry news aggregator.
- Techmeme has lots of indirect competition, including Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Like all media sites, Techmeme's real competition comes from whatever is best at diverting attention that it might otherwise draw. So foremost among Techmeme's "competitors" are Twitter, Facebook, blogs that function as news aggregators, and, in fact, media of all forms (not to mention sunshine, children, and puppies). A person who is content to gather technology news through what friends share on Facebook, or by scanning thousands of tweets each day, may be less likely to rely on Techmeme. On the other hand, because this competition exists, those that do rely on Techmeme happen to be the most demanding and informed readers, the ones who know they can't stay current on actionable news by merely consuming social media feeds. So while competition may curtail Techmeme's readership somewhat, it has the effect of making our average reader more valuable.
- Lately we've been more about building team and process than technology. While Techmeme's foundation is a suite of technologies that continues to evolve, the bulk of our work in recent years has been directed at hiring and training editors, and perfecting the processes that strengthen our editorial product. In this way, we have more in common with news organizations than, say, Google News or Nuzzel. While it's possible the balance may shift again in the years ahead, our reliance on human editors will not wane (until such time as AI has progressed to the point where robots write hit songs and screenplays.)
- Techmeme usually has only one editor working at a time. In 2008 we announced we were coupling our algorithmic engine with our first human editor. Since then, we've hired several more editors to provide near-24/7 coverage. Even with those additional editors, we still follow a model in which usually just one editor works on Techmeme at a time. Mediagazer, Techmeme's sister site for media news, employs editors as well, but again, mainly just one at a time. While there are moments throughout the day when a second Techmeme editor assists the first, facilitated by an editing system designed for collaboration, more often than not, it's just one human editor alongside our automation.
- Our editing model leads to a highly distributed and international team, and no offices. Covering news 24/7, but with only one editor working a site at a time leads to an organization built around working from home, so long as those home offices span many time zones. The flexibility that comes with working from home has enabled us to tap talent pools unavailable to other kinds of organizations, particularly stay-at-home parents and full time college students. One result of this is a fairly broad range of ages among our editors, a form of diversity emphasized not very frequently in commentary on inclusion in Techmeme stories, but nonetheless a real asset for many organizations.
- Opting not to host articles profoundly affects the way news can be conveyed for non-obvious reasons. Because Techmeme doesn't host its own stories, we're never tempted to publish more articles than our readers want just to goose traffic. Also, when we do publish new links, we're never tempted to use headlines designed to force you to click to collect very basic details, which would only make our homepage less valuable, and wouldn't improve our stats in any way. The end result is a homepage that's highly informative, scannable, and devoid of gimmicky news, an outcome that runs counter to major trends in media.
- Techmeme has never run interstitials, page takeovers, mouse-over ads, auto-playing anything, or even banners. Arriving at a sustainable ad model for Techmeme was never going to be easy. When you don't host articles, you don't rack up as many page views, and moreover, you don't have very sharable content, the kind that attracts monthly unique visitors (i.e. entices bored people to leave Facebook for a few seconds). In 2015, supporting an online news operation with advertising when your page view and unique visitor numbers aren't massive is always an uphill battle. Media sites in this predicament are often tempted to run ads units that pay more but repel and infuriate readers.
Fortunately what Techmeme does have is the attention of the people who lead the tech industry. (Ask your CEO "where do you get your tech news?") When a news destination is a hub for industry decision-makers, companies will want to reach its readers, making it possible to sell the far more welcome form of "ads" that Techmeme does include. These include posts from sponsors' blogs, catchy taglines from companies that want you to check out their job openings, and events that companies want you to consider attending. While not all companies are used to making these sorts of marketing buys, many are learning how, and Techmeme is here to serve them.
- Techmeme has never taken VC: a lesson for some, but a model for none. I always hoped it would be possible to build and sustain Techmeme without the aid of venture capital or debt. Not so much because of real or perceived issues around independence or autonomy, not because "bootstrapped" is an impressive badge of honor, and not because I disliked investors (some of my best friends are VCs!) But rather because the media business we envisioned by its nature was just not destined to become the "unicorn" VCs always want, at least in its first of several possible iterations. So proving sustainability always seemed necessarily part of the plan. Moreover, in casual conversations with investors over the years most ideas for expansion suggested to me seemed destined to fail in my estimation (a fate borne out in a few cases by actual companies that carried out such plans).
As Techmeme never did raise VC nor even attempted to, my initial hope of course became a reality.
And yet I don't want Techmeme to be any kind of flag-bearer for bootstrapped startups, because the lessons we learned are not so widely applicable, especially in 2015. While there are lessons to learn from what we've built, it's hard to imagine a business starting today for which Techmeme's experience can serve as a direct model. Furthermore, I wouldn't even claim with certainty that forgoing VC was the best decision for Techmeme. Just because most ideas for rapidly expanding Techmeme are flawed doesn't mean all of them are, and as we've found after some consideration, there may be some good ones out there!