Owen Thomas Joins ReadWrite As Editor-in-Chief, Says He Will Take The Site ‘Back To Our Roots’

Say Media just announced that Owen Thomas, previously the West Coast Editor at Business Insider, has joined ReadWrite (a tech blog that Say acquired in 2011) as editor-in-chief.

I reported on Friday that Thomas (who’s an old boss of mine — he was executive editor at VentureBeat back when I was the assistant editor) was in talks for the position, though all that Say representatives would tell me at the time was that they were talking to a number of candidates.

Formerly called ReadWriteWeb, the blog was founded by Richard MacManus back in 2003, and over the past decade it has been home to a number of great tech writers (including Frederic Lardinois, Sarah Perez and Alex Williams, who are all currently writing for TechCrunch). Last fall, the company announced the new name, a new design, and the hiring of Dan Lyons as editor. Lyons left last month to take a position at marketing software company HubSpot.

In some ways, Thomas and Lyons are similar choices: They have lots of media experience (yes, Owen, that’s my polite way of saying that you’re old), but they can also be snarky and controversial.

“Owen is a brilliant writer with great experience covering every aspect of the technology industry,” said Say SVP and Editorial Director Kate Lewis in a press release. “He has a distinct point-of-view and a cleverness that makes his work resonate both inside and outside of his community.”

ReadWrite has also published its own blog post announcing the move, in which Owen is described as “a shockingly nice fellow.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but he is actually pretty nice, and that does surprise some people, especially since he used to be the editor of Valleywag.

“One thing we’re definitely going to do is go back to our roots,” Thomas told me. In other words, he wants to explore the idea embedded in the company’s name — what it means now that “everyone is a participant, everyone’s a builder today.”

When Lyons joined as editor, he told us that he wanted to make ReadWrite more fun. I pointed out that people are probably expecting that from Thomas too, but he said, “I have my serious side, Anthony.” He added that he definitely wants to make sure the site has a sense of humor, and that sometimes being funny or snarky is the most appropriate response to tech news: “You have to laugh so you don’t cry.”