It took just two years for Gabe Rivera to have four verticals, including tech “front page” Techmeme, running off his algorithm for discovering and highlighting news. The fourth site, BallBug, launched for opening day in 2006. It took four years to add one — Mediagazer, a site launching today to aggregate news about, you guessed it, the media. (The name’s a little more straightforward than memeorandum, the political site that came first, or WeSmirch, the unfortunately titled gossip site.)
In the interim, in addition to finessing the algorithm, Rivera added an editorial element to Techmeme that will carry over literally to Mediagazer: Techmeme’s first editor Megan McCarthy — it has three now — edits the new site, which has the ambitious aim of offering the day’s “must read media news” on a single page. (Her own post on the launch is live now.)
McCarthy, who joined Rivera in late 2008, explained the delay between verticals. “We spent the last four years evolving and perfecting our aggregation model and finally did the next vertical when we thought it was mature enough.” She said she doesn’t know how many sources are included in the media algorithm but the list builds out automatically as new sources are discovered. Why media? It fits their requirements: “lots of new coverage every day, lots of stories revolving around the same issues, and a variety of subtopics (video, media industry consolidation, blogs, future of journalism, newspapers, etc.) that people discuss.”
As for staying standalone, “We’ve never raised any money — everything is bootstrapped. There’s no investors, and no outside pressure from them. We’re still building, and it’s a lot easier to do grow when you’re not beholden to a larger corporation. We have a lot of potential and the freedom to explore it.” The company has six staffers, including its founder.
Anyone familiar with Techmeme or the others will recognize Mediagazer’s lean, headline-driven look and style. It launches with one Techmeme-shared sponsor — Seesmic — and three of its own, WordPress, Zemanta and Tynt.
Update: As Mediagazer’s first day winds down, some more thoughts:
– Techmeme’s model has met with mixed success. I’m not talking about the algorithm, which has drawn its share of criticism, but the business model of using that technology to build verticals. McCarthy says Techmeme.com had 2.9 million page views in January with CES, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Nexus One and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iPad; 2.5 million in February. (I don’t usually rely much on page views but given that the sites essentially are front pages, it’s a decent guide.) The other verticals aren’t big traffic draws by any stretch. The plus: once the algorithm is set and the site is out there, it’s a matter of upkeep more than investment. It’s no accident that Techmeme and now Mediagazer are the only ones with editors.
– It doesn’t get much more meta than Mediagazer featuring veteran media news aggregator Jim Romenesko, as was the case today. (Wonder how high he’ll wind up on the leaderboard once it’s up and running.) McCarthy says media sites shouldn’t look at Mediagazer as competition. “It’s more of an augmentation, not replacing anything.” Not sure about that? Go to Mediagazer and imagine it without stories from the “competition” — including us. It would be empty.