June 26, 2007

Topix Cracks the Top 20 & Gets a New Suit

by tolles at 10:02 AM

For the first time, Topix hit the top 20 most visited news and info sites, according to Hitwise May 2007 data. I'm especially happy about this, since the other big news is that Rich is stepping up to manage from the board, and I'm stepping in as CEO of Topix.

Wait, what?

Yes, record traffic, good coverage, our majority stake investors are happy -- so what the hell? Why would Rich want to hand over the keys to his baby right now? Where's the smoking gun? What's wrong with this picture? Denton's still at Valleywag this week, right? Let's blow this thing wide open!

Well, when Rich and I were talking about what we needed to do around here to take things to the next level, we were in complete agreement...We would have to iterate the product quickly, and often, building out the platform and technology he had architected with the development team here, and also press the bet with some marketing and sales around what we'd built.

But.

Even though we were seeing eye-to-eye on what needed to be done, after the press tour and some initial conversation about where we needed to go, Rich told me that he wasn't having as much fun right now, and looking at what we needed to do, didn't see much opportunity for what he really loves to do -- architect from the metal on up and put out the 1.0 that is so far ahead of everything else - the first computer virus, one of the first MUD's, NewHoo/dmoz, Topix - that even his no good co-founders couldn't screw things up. No, we had just deployed the big new re-invention, and now it's time to keep tweaking it, and also push up the marketing and sales efforts a couple of notches.

Rich would rather chew off his arm, I think.

Anyway, it took a while to get everything straight, work it out with our board, and set everyone up. Essentially, I still work for Rich, and we still get access to his architectural chops, which is great. We're on a tear, with a new one day record of traffic and forum posts yesterday, and a big bunch of stuff we need to work through. For those of you who are curious, it's pretty easy to find out a little bit more about what I think

Strap in. It's going to be fun.

Walter Lippman once said that "The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully". I think I can manage that.