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Harry McCracken’s Post-PCWorld

Friday, January 16, 2009

Longtime PCWorld editor-in-chief Harry McCracken couldn’t have picked a worse year to go solo. After a famous kerfuffle over publishing an article critical of Apple Inc., Harry had quit and then rejoined PCWorld, only to quit finally last year to go off on his own. Last summer his Tecnologizer blog of tech news, views and reviews launched just as the market was about to tank. Nevertheless, Harry came into the cluttered blogosphere with a distinct advantage. At PCWorld he had been one of the most popular tech bloggers already on the Internet and had established a voice, temperament and reputation for thorough work.

More than that, Technologizer (“A Smarter Take on Tech”) reverses the polarity of the typical blog and magazine combo. Rather than feature stories surrounded by blogs, Harry’s layout has a central blog with a long column of colorfully named features in a series of equally colorful tiles. Longer think pieces like “31 Amazing Years of Apple Patents” and “Frenemies: 12 Really Complicated Tech Relationships” are magazine-like features. These articles serve as evergreen content that is always available from the front page, while Harry’s real-time commentary gives the page its voice and vibrancy. Call it a blogazine, perhaps, but McCracken seems to have blended his magazine training and blog chops well to create a worthy competitor to the massive eyeball magnets like Engadget and Gizmodo, which just scroll an endless ticker of breaking gadget news.

And unlike many new entrants into the space, clearly, Harry brought an audience with him. And a reputation. The site established content relationships with his former pub PCWorld and with BusinessWeek. He also gets the call from media outlets looking for a tech geek: CBS News, ABC News and a video interview at All Things D. In other words, McCracken still plays the role of famed magazine editor…but without the magazine.

He tells min that Technologizer attracted several hundred thousand unique visitors six weeks after launch. “January is on track to be my best month to date in terms of page views by quite a bit,” he says. “I should do well over a million page views.”

The site also seems to be a financial success, or at least a viable going concern. The site has ad support from HP, Intel, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon. McCracken says the partnership with blog ad and media network Federated Media has been critical to the site’s success, since their staff of reps handle much of the ad sales chores. Federated Media is the brainchild of Industry Standard publisher John Battelle. Several years ago, Battelle and partners formed one of the first successful attempts to network high-profile blogs like Boing Boing and GigaOm.

As for how Technologizer is handling the economic downturn, Harry is sanguine. “The ad meltdown affects every site whose business model involves display ads,” he tells us. “But I believe strongly that a site like Technologizer is in at least as good a position to survive and thrive as ones from bigger media companies simply because my overhead is so low. I don’t have employees to pay, office space to lease or shareholders to satisfy. I can hit profitability without vast revenues.”

Probably a good model for this environment.

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