Some major shifts in tech-blog staffing this week — a few basic editorial replacements at TechCrunch, along with outright signs of trouble for PandoDaily.
At TechCrunch, co-editor-in-chief Eric Eldon is stepping down, writing that “it’s time to try something different” and giving the impression he might be leaving the tech world altogether. It’s hard for this blogger to imagine a life without tech for such a solidly Silicon Valley persona as Eldon, a Stanford alum who was the first employee of VentureBeat and sold his Inside Network startup for $14 million to Mediabistro. But, stranger things have happened in the Valley…
TechCrunch senior editor Leena Rao will become Managing Editor, and senior editor Matthew Panzarino will take Eldon’s place and share the editor-in-chief role with manic pixie dream girl Alexia Tsotsis.
Meanwhile, PandoDaily lost several staffers from both the business and editorial ends, and rumors are swirling that Sarah Lacy’s ‘media empire’ is in bad territory.
Erin Griffith, who covered the New York City startup scene for Pando, announced to her colleagues via e-mail that she has accepted a job at Fortune magazine, according to Valleywag. Nathaniel Mott confirmed in a blog post that he is also leaving the company, and indicates he will either look for another journalism job or “finally get that degree.” Hamish McKenzie — who has written some of the site’s most thought-provoking media criticism — will be leaving for a PR job at Tesla, which he indicated was personally offered to him by Elon Musk.
Also exiting Pando are executive producer Kym McNicholas, an Emmy-nominated broadcaster who was helping build out a Pando video unit, and general manager Oni Rovatti.
With five major exits in less than a month, we’re left with a fair question: are these staffers ‘leaving with a heavy heart,’ or literally jumping ship?
Valleywag’s Sam Biddle — a constant nemesis of Lacy — notes “I’ve heard a lot about money worries” at Pando. Although Lacy has boasted of revenues from Pando’s ‘Fireside Chat’ event series, we have little reason to believe the blog is generating substantial advertising profits; the only ‘viral’ Pando posts seem to be proclamations the rest of the world finds insane, such as Bryan Goldberg’s thesis on creating a $1 billion+ women’s blog.
Lacy launched Pando just two years ago, with $2.5 million from some of the Valley’s top investors, and has shown a penchant for continuing to raise money — like most of the startups she covers, her ability to generate value organically (i.e. sell some damn ads) is still in question.
*Disclosure: Sarah Lacy has previously reamed me out as well, in response to this post about the NSFWCORP acqui-hire. Many will not have sympathy if her media company is sinking, but I am curious as to whether she can actually generate returns for her investors.