Nick Denton Is Resurrecting Valleywag

Business Insider

Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip blog Gawker killed off in 2009, is making a comeback.

Nick Denton, Gawker's CEO and founder, says he'll be bringing the site back to life, and he's currently hunting for an editor or two to run it. 

At least three people, including two people who previously contributed to Valleywag, have been approached about the position.

When we asked if Valleywag would be a standalone site again, Denton replied: "Not exactly... [we] will have a writer or two but most of the posts will be published to Gawker as well as Valleywag."

Valleywag first debuted under Nick Douglas in early 2006. It quickly became the gossip rag Silicon Valley loved to hate, breaking stories about early Facebook investor Peter Thiel's sexual orientation and more. It was the first site to raise questions about Steve Jobs' health and it broke the news of Twitter's birth.

" The audience was extremely desirable. Nobody read Valleywag, except for all of Silicon Valley," Denton tells us via Google Talk. But Denton says he always struggled to monetize Valleywag and in early 2009, when the economy tanked, its team of five suffered two rounds of layoffs. 

Valleywag.com was shuttered but the content lived on as a section of Gawker.com. Denton kept it going until Ryan Tate left for Wired last May.

Now Denton feels the time is right to resurrect Valleywag. He's not sure if it will stay up and running forever, but it will stay up through the second tech bubble burst.

For starters, he wants to test the full power of Gawker's new discussion platform, Kinja, and he feels Valleywag is the best place to do that. Its sources and subjects are fully online and can take advantage of the platform to discuss the scuttlebutt.

Kinja puts readers in charge of discussions. Instead of merely commenting on an article, they can reply to it, add photos, videos and text, then start their own thread with a unique url. "It's  designed to turn an often unwieldy comment section into a valuable, streamlined system for discussing posts and holding conversations,' Lifehacker, a Gawker site that already uses Kinja, explains.

Of course, the Facebook fallout also lent a heavy hand in Denton's decision to relaunch Valleywag. The startup world is starting to crumble and Denton is ready to report all the details as companies fold, get acquired and battle scandals.

" This is the right time in the cycle for Valleywag," he says. " As F*cked Company demonstrated ten years ago, an online bulletin board can become the publication of record."

" it's too good a story to pass up," he added.

Denton says Valleywag will emerge as soon as he finds the right person to run it. In the meantime, you can air dirty Silicon Valley laundry here.

UPDATE: What does Nick Douglas, Valleywag's founding editor, think of the site's return? Douglas was hired straight from college, but soon replaced by Denton as the head of the site. He kindly replied to our email request for comment with the following statement:

"I'm very glad to see Valleywag is coming back. While I no longer cover the tech industry, I still follow it, and I love Gawker's take on it. The move to Kinja also seems very smart, as (in my short tenure) Valleywag's best stories usually came from tips.

"Gawker Media was only three years old when they hired me, 21 years old with zero professional experience, to write about billion-dollar deals. That was fun, but it'll be interesting to see how the older, more serious Valleywag will behave. Certainly they'll have a better eye for big stories. And the audience will be larger now that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so on turned everyone into a tech user. But I expect it'll be wittier as well. I certainly hope the editors poach some of the Gawker staff."

Full disclosure: Two of SAI's editors (not the author of this post) are former Valleywaggers.



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