VentureBeat has learned that Say Media has sold the technology blog ReadWrite to Silicon Valley-based incubator Wearable World for an undisclosed amount.
We reached out to Wearable World CEO Redg Snodgrass, and he confirmed that our sources were correct. However, he would not offer comment on the deal, which was supposed to be announced sometime later in the month.
ReadWriteWeb, as it was originally called, is a developer-focused tech blog, and has been a staple of the tech blogosphere since its launch in 2003. But parent company Say Media has run into trouble lately, recapitalizing with a $5 million investment at a $5 million pre-money valuation. Previously, the company raised over $100 million, so that’s a big devaluation. As part of the restructuring, Say was looking to unload its media properties, including ReadWrite.
Editor Owen Thomas (who is a former executive editor at VentureBeat) will stay on board and will not make any significant editorial changes.
So why is an incubator specializing in wearable technology getting into the media game, when news sites are generally not huge money-makers?
What’s the deal with this deal?
The easiest explanation is that Wearable World makes part of its revenue from conferences. While many tech blogs (including VentureBeat) also make a hefty sum of their revenue from paid events, the real value here for Wearable World is ReadWrite’s following.
For ReadWrite’s part, conferences present perfect opportunities to cozy up to A-list speakers and secure future scoops. Case in point: I spoke at one of Wearable World’s conferences, Glazed, where I met a few health tech designers, which eventually led to some valuable leads on emerging gadgets. So there’s a natural symbiosis between conferences and media.
Independent of ReadWrite, Wearable World could potentially become an established voice in the nascent but growing industry of everyday smart devices (the so-called “Internet of Things,” or IoT). IoT devices are making inroads into the everyday, with smart watches that track exercise and dishware that counts calories. Wearable World’s specialization in this field could give ReadWrite a leg up against competing news sites as IoT moves further into the tech mainstream.
The unquantified human angle
While no major editorial changes are planned for ReadWrite yet, I suspect the blog will naturally inch toward more smart device coverage. Thomas is one of the “quantified health” geeks among tech journalists. Every time we run into each other at a tech event, he’s toying around with some new fitness gadget or telling me about the latest genetics testing website.
This could be what Silicon Valley refers to as an “acquihire”: Wearable World gets Thomas and all his uber-geeky tech health friends. There are a lot of wonderful journalists in our industry, but few who also fit the Wearable World niche.
ReadWrite faces stiff competition from not only the established tech blogs, but the new rich up-and-comers. Vox, BuzzFeed, and Vice are all flush with venture cash to expand their ranks. In order to compete, ReadWrite may have to expand its masthead, too. That won’t be cheap. But if Wearable World’s bet on IoT pays off, that could be a cost worth bearing.