I was hoping that the changing of the guard at Technorati would mean that the company would learn to become somewhat humble. Early signs say that isn’t the case. In a Wired interview, incoming CEO Richard Jalichandra did note that the company has some challenges ahead (in reality, the only challenge is to find a buyer, fast).
But he also describes Techmeme, which has a single employee, never raised capital and yet has beaten Technorati at everything it has chosen to do, merely as “a great little site.” He also says Techmeme is not nearly as embedded in the blog community as Technorati:
WN: What’s your take on TechMeme’s leaderboard?
RJ: It’s a great little site and there are a lot of cool things on there, but when I look at the assets we’re sitting on it’s clear that we’re doing something different. They don’t track 100 million blogs and they’re not nearly as embedded in blog community. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in terms of how deep we can go, I feel like we’re in a pretty good place.
Jalichandra may learn the hard way that belittling competitors doesn’t create loads of goodwill for his company. He would be far better off simply stating the truth: that Technorati managed to burn through $20 million in capital and has created little more than the second most popular blog search engine after Google blogsearch (and with how quickly Google is indexing blogs and other news sites, many loyal blog searchers simply search google.com today anyway). They missed huge opportunities – Techmeme (rapidly passionate readers), MyBlogLog (social network around blogs) and Sphere’s related search product (stole Technorati partners like WSJ and Washington Post) are all opportunities that Technorati just plain missed, and shouldn’t have. All of those “great little companies” could have added up to one big company, and Technorati could have been it.
So what is Jalichandra going to focus on as CEO (the real answer is selling the company, but he can’t say that). Here’s his answer:
WN: What can we expect to see from Technorati in the next year with you at the helm?
RJ: We’re really centered on trying to create a wholly unique media experience and improving our properties. Our big thing is going to be working on the advertising side of things to connect brands to the idea of global conversation that we strive for. Most of the opportunities and initiatives we’ve got coming up are going to address those two things.
He’s going to create a “wholly unique media experience,” improve their properties and focus on advertising. That could be inspiring, I guess, if I knew what the hell it meant. Sounds like big company marketing gibberish to me.
On a related note, here’s a juicy rumor that’s been floating around London this week at the Future of Web Apps Conference: In late 2005 Technorati may have turned down a $90 million acquisition offer, demanding $150 million instead. Needless to say, the potential acquiror came to its senses and declined.
Update: Jalichandra responds in the comments:
Wow. You really jumped on that/me! First, I must state categorically that when I said that — and you obviously can’t hear the intonation — I stated my admiration for Techmeme genuinely, and in direct response to a question about Techmeme. I truly like the site, and I liked it before I joined Technorati. That said, I see how in print that my admiration gets taken out of context. All I was trying to point out is that our sites and businesses are different — not better or worse, but just different. Anyway, I’d love to meet you in person, so that you’d understand exactly my perspective, and realize I’m not the kind of guy who belittles anyone’s significant accomplishments. Please feel free to drop me a line. best, richard