ATD’s Mossberg & Swisher: (Photo: Denise Truscello/WireImage; PRNewsFoto/Digitas/AP Images)
Yesterday, Wall Street Journal business editor Dennis Berman took to Twitter to trumpet the acquisition of respected Slate tech scribe Farhad Manjoo by the Wall Street Journal’s technology reporting team.
For those in the tech media bubble, this was “big tech news,” but for everyone else, it paled in comparison to let’s say Microsoft’s $7.2B acquisition of Nokia’s phone/tablet biz or the Apple’s much-anticipated new iPhones skedded to bow September 10. What’s more, Mr. Berman is not prone to hyperbole, nor he is particularly active on Twitter…averaging less than a tweet a day. So why the unusually warm embrace?
Separately, The Journal’s technology beat’s Ã©minence grise Walt Mossberg, a prolific Twitter user with a half million+ followers, welcomed his new young, goatee-less protege to the fold:
Some of the back story comes into focus from a JP Mangalindan-Dan Primack item in Fortune magazine, which resurfaced something Reuters broke last February: “AllThingsD nears split with Dow Jones.” The new of Manjoo’s hiring prompted the intrepid and occasionally irascible Felix Salmon to ratchet up the meme:
This set off a flurry of activity in the Twitterstreams of tech cognoscentis everywhere:
Francine Hardaway weighed in:
To which Ms. Swisher, with here 900K+ followers, replied:
The idea that Mr. Mossberg and Ms. Swisher could successfully extricate their esteemed tech media brand from Dow Jones and News Corp is tantalizing indeed. There is little precedent of which I’m aware in the mediasphere for such a secession. The only analogy I can think of is if Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “DealBook” broke away from The New York Times.
I do not have first-hand knowledge of the economics of either AllThingsD or DealBook, but I do know that ATD’s conferences are huge moneymakers for the franchise, and they alone could sustain it – with or without the heft of the Wall Street Journal behind it. I’d therefore find it hard to believe that The Journal, its parent Dow Jones, or its parent News Corp. would easily part with the AllThingsD franchise. As Ms. Swisher noted during this latest Twitter flurry:
And if Mossberg-Swisher did prevail, they’d find themselves competing on the same plane with the likes of TechCrunch, PandoDaily, Mashable, BusinessInsider, GigaOm, The Verge, and too many others to mention. But then again, these are their competitors today.