Richard Nieva of Fortune writes about Tim Stevens, the editor in chief of tech blog Engadget and, he argues, one of the most powerful people in the tech world.
Nieva writes, “Peter Rojas founded the blog in his tiny Lower East Side apartment in 2004, with the goal of covering technology in plain speech. In an industry smitten with jargon and officialese, Engadget covered gadgets in a way that was readable. Rojas created Engadget for Weblogs, Inc. and cashed in when CEO Jason Calacanis sold the company to AOL a year later for $25 million. It continued to grow. As of today, Technorati, a website which ranks the popularity of blogs, lists Engadget as the world’s number one tech blog, with The Verge right behind it. In April, the site received 4.8 million unique visitors, according to comScore Inc.
“Engadget quickly became an authority. According to a former Apple employee, executives at the company originally avoided talking to Engadget or Gizmodo because their coverage was ‘too snarky.’ That changed after Steve Jobs began reading them every day. Stevens recalls a phone call he once got from a public relations person after writing a negative review of a tablet. ‘She told me I ruined the company,’ he says. ‘I thought, ‘Don’t ruin my day by telling me that. You should make a good product.” One PR person from a prominent agency in Silicon Valley says good coverage from the blog is crucial to a product’s success or failure with consumers. ‘They can make your launch a big mess. They are incredibly important,’ says the representative who declined to be named.
“Engadget has a staff of about 40 writers and editors scattered around the globe — from Silicon Valley to Paris and Taipei. They report in numerous languages, including Chinese and German. The staff has had moments of journalistic ingenuity and brilliance. When Apple released the iPhone 3G in 2008, for instance, former editor in chief Ryan Block travelled to New Zealand, the closest launch country to the International Date Line, to get his hands on a phone. The maneuver bought Engadget the most precious commodity in the business of blogging: time. The gambit gave the site an 18-hour lead over media outlets on the East Coast.”
Read more here.