Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Former Top Editor Makes Another Talent Raid on AOL’s Engadget for New Competing Gadget Site

I love the smell of blog wars in the morning!

Acting as Facebook often does to Google, a new site started by former Engadget editor Josh Topolsky just hired away yet another passel of tech journalists from the giant gadget news and reviews organization.

Editorial movement is not uncommon on tech news sites, but this level of it from one site to another is somewhat, um, aggressive.

Engadget, which is owned by AOL, is one of the largest tech-focused sites on the Web. Topolsky left his editor-in-chief job there in March.

By April, he had grabbed eight prominent Engadget staffers who had left the huge tech site amid editorial tensions, in order to start a new competing gadget property for the well-funded sports content start-up SB Nation.

Now, sources said, Topolsky has added Thomas Ricker, an Engadget senior editor, who had run its European coverage; Sean Hollister, a senior associate editor, who ran its West coast team; and Joseph Flatley, an associate editor.

Also hired: Thomas Houston, editor-in-chief of Switched, an AOL tech site that was recently subsumed into its Huffington Post Media unit; and Dieter Bohn, who was editor-in-chief for the Smartphone Experts network of sites, including Crackberry and others.

And other possible new hires soon from Engadget: Another European editor, Vlad Savov, and writer Jacob Schulman.

The Topolsky-helmed site is still unnamed but is now operating as This Is My Next. It already has 16 writers, compared to Engadget’s two dozen, and is set to debut in the fall with a new name.

It will be the first content expansion at the Washington, D.C., SB Nation, which completed a $10.5 million Series C round, led by Khosla Ventures, in the fall.

Before that, SB Nation had already raised about $13 million in total venture funding from Accel Partners, Allen & Company and Comcast Interactive Capital, as well as from angel investors such as Ted Leonsis and others in Silicon Valley.

Another AOL link: SB Nation was founded by former AOLer, CEO Jim Bankoff, who had bought Engadget for AOL many years ago.

Engadget Editorial Director Josh Frulinger said that the impact of the talent drain on Engadget — mostly from This Is My Next raids — has been small, since the site has also been aggressively hiring.

“We’re past the people leaving and into celebrating what we’ve accomplished in six short months, and we welcome any new competition,” he said. “Dana Wollman, Brian Heater, Myriam Joire, Zach Honig, Joe Pollicino, Richard Lawler, Michael Gorman, Sean Buckley, Joseph Volpe, Brad Molen, Terrence O’Brien, Amar Toor and Sharif Skar — all brought on in the past six months — are your Engadget stars of tomorrow.”

To prove it, AOL said unique visitors for Engadget in June were up 1.1 percent from May and will be up again for July. In recent reports, the site had 14 million unique monthly visitors.

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