Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Who Shot Valleywag? Gossip Bloggers Thomas (Outgoing) and Tate (Incoming) Speak!

jr-owen-thomas

Was it Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in Fraiche Yogurt with a Macbook Air? Or Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on the streets of San Francisco with a Model S? Or, most likely of all, Marissa Mayer of Google in the penthouse with a Manolo Blahnik spiked heel?

For all the invective this trio has taken from him, all would certainly be prime suspects if some nefarious fate befell always controversial Valleywag gossip blogger Owen Thomas.

Actually, the truth is a little more mundane: The self-described “scourge of [Silicon] Valley” is moving onto another digital job as head of GE (GE) unit NBC Universal’s new Bay Area Web site, whose motto is “Locals Only.”

There, the 37-year-old Thomas will run a site that focuses on news from around the San Francisco region, with a mix of national stories. But, sources said, he is still going to continue to drill down on tech too, so those burned before by him should not relax too much.

Thomas has been running Valleywag since mid-2007. Its staff got pretty large for a while, until it was recently downsized and its content stuffed into Gawker, the flagship site of Gawker Media. The Valleywag site remains, though, and will continue to.

And it will now be the domain of deceptively fresh-faced Ryan Tate, Thomas’s replacement. The Berkeley resident, 32, has been the night editor for Gawker since early last year.

Interestingly, Tate was an intern for The Wall Street Journal’s California edition and also worked for tech-oriented publications like Business 2.0, Upside and the San Francisco Business Times.

Thomas is reportedly staying on at Valleywag through the middle of the month and then it will be Tate’s turn to make mischief with tech’s more puffed-up mandarins.

In an effort to scare Tate into steering clear of BoomTown, I invited the pair to All Things Digital HQ this rainy afternoon for a little sit-down to discuss where the controversial site has been and where it is going.

Here’s the video (and below it, a video interview I did with Thomas and then-Valleywag writer Megan McCarthy, when he got the job):


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald