By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Pinyadda

BostInno acquired by Boston Business Journal’s owner

Chase Garbarino

For some time now I’ve been keeping an eye on Streetwise Media, a Boston start-up whose chief executive and public face, Chase Garbarino, has been trying to figure out new ways of reaching tech-savvy, city-dwelling twentysomethings.

First came Pinyadda, an attempt to meld journalism and social networking in a way that was supposed to be less serious and more fun than NewsTrust. Well, it may have been less serious, but it wasn’t less cumbersome, and Pinyadda went the way of all pixels.

Next, and more lasting: BostInno, a website that covers technology, city life and higher education for an audience that I would describe as young urban singles. Nothing too heavy, but it’s enjoyed some success. An old acquaintance, veteran journalist Mary McGrath, has been involved with it. A former student of mine had an internship there. Garbarino and company launched a satellite site in Washington, and were planning to open a third site in New York.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when it was announced a few days ago that BostInno had been acquired by American City Business Journals (ACBJ), the parent company of the Boston Business Journal. What’s posted on the BostInno (here) and BBJ (here) websites is all very hopeful and enthusiastic, as these things generally are. But is this going to give BostInno a chance to grow — or does it mark the beginning of the end?

Although the terms were not disclosed, I suspect that ACBJ’s managers are genuinely interested in BostInno, if only because there was no reason for them to acquire it just to shut it down. I also predict a culture clash ahead. The BBJ and its sister papers are high-quality but rather staid. (Indeed, ACBJ is part of the Newhouse empire, making the BBJ — and now BostInno — corporate cousins of the New Yorker.) BostInno is energetic and can be fun, but it is not a hardcore journalistic enterprise.

Here’s how BostInno put it:

While acquisitions are usually viewed as endings, we believe this is just the beginning for Streetwise. We believe more and more each day in what we are doing and we love doing it.

And here is a considerably more reserved quote from ACBJ chief executive Whitney Shaw that appears in the BBJ:

In a short amount of time, Streetwise has attracted a very loyal and robust audience that is different from but complementary to what we do at our business journals in Boston, Washington and elsewhere.

I’m hoping that the acquisition means good things for BostInno, and that Garbarino and co-founder Kevin McCarthy will be allowed to do their thing. I think they’re on to something, and I’d like to see them have the time and resources they need to figure it out.

Hacking their way toward journalism’s future

I was going to try to write up last night’s Hacks/Hackers meeting at Microsoft’s Cambridge headquarters. But I can’t do any better than Kyle Psaty, who covers it for the BostInnovation blog. Hosted by Matt Carroll of the Boston Globe, the gathering brought together about 75 journalists and technology folks. What follows are just a couple of quick observations.

Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg of Flowing Media showed off a new data-presentation tool taking campaign-finance information from and slicing and dicing it in a number of different ways. Interesting, though the tools Viégas and Wattenberg demo’d struck me as a little exotic. Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray was very excited, so I’m sure those more technologically adept than I will find uses for it.

Somewhat more down-to-earth was a project called Pinyadda, a website that combines journalism, community and social networking. Based on the presentation made by Austin Gardner-Smith, the Boston-based company’s vice president for product and development, Pinyadda may be groping its way toward a just-right space between Digg (too dumb) and NewsTrust (too hard). I’m hoping to find the time to play with it and see for myself.

I learned a few things, met some interesting people, ate some free pizza — what more can you ask for?

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