Silicon Valley business reporter Matt Marshall left The San Jose Mercury News at the end of last month to start his own Internet publishing business and was overwhelmed with traffic within the first couple of hours of the new site’s operation.
On Sept. 1, armed with a new set of Web servers, he had VentureBeat up and running.
Marshall began to cover the venture beat for the Mercury News in 2001. He then went online with his blog SiliconBeat in 2004. He joins an elite group of journalists who have opted out of their big publishing platforms to go it alone. Earlier this summer, magazine writer Om Malik took venture capital financing from True Ventures to beef up operations at his GigaOm blog. The money helped him leave his job at Business2.0 and to hire two other journalists to join him.
Marshall won’t be taking venture dollars any time soon, however. “I’d rather take less cash and work hard and make a return than take a lot of cash, still work hard and not get any return,” he says.
VentureBeat will sell advertising through John Battelle’s Federated Media Publishing advertising network, which connects brand advertisers with prominent bloggers. Federated Media, which is backed by JPMorgan Partners and the Omidyar Network, has helped several new media companies over the last several months. One of its clients, Michael Arrington, says his TechCrunch blog makes $60,000 a month.
Marshall says seeing the success of those around him gave him a sense of urgency.
But going solo is something that has been on Marshall’s mind for some time. He saw his Pulitzer-prize winning father forced into early retirement at the Los Angeles Times several years ago. “It was an indicator that there’s real change going on in the newspaper industry,” he says.
The SiliconBeat site has gone dormant in his absence. —Alexander Haislip