Test case for the future of independent online business journalism
by Chris Roush
Hagey writes, “In the past year, the site has boosted its monthly unique visitor count by 32% to 5.4 million in June, estimates comScore, an Internet analytics firm. That’s more than the U.S. traffic of century-old business publications like the Economist or Financial Times, not to mention newer online rivals like TechCrunch, Engadget, PaidContent and Mashable that Mr. Blodget first set out to compete with.
“‘I like that they pull no punches,’ said online entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. ‘They find stories that you would sit and discuss with friends and associates, that are topical, interesting and often give a unique side of a story. I’m a big fan.’
“In 2002, Mr. Blodget — then an analyst at Merrill Lynch — was accused by regulators of publicly issuing positive ratings on stocks of the firm’s investment-banking clients while privately deriding them in email messages. He was permanently barred from the securities industry in 2003 and paid $4 million to settle regulators’ charges against him.
“Ten years later, at the age of 46, Mr. Blodget now presides over Business Insider from a makeshift standing desk in the middle of a 50-person newsroom in New York, where he barks questions (‘Is it cool?’ ‘Can we clip that video?’) at his reporters. When the company moved in a year ago, ‘it was like being in an airplane hangar,’ Mr. Blodget said. Today, the desks are crammed so closely together that the computer monitors nearly touch. In the intervening year, the company — which now covers everything from finance to sports — has doubled its staff to 95 full-time employees.”
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