Valleywag is becoming essential

I have to echo Fred Wilson’s view that Valleywag has suddenly become a must-read for me. Despite the incessant Yahoo! bashing recently, Nick Denton has finally created an insightful Silicon Valley gossip rag that’s worth the time put into it. Fred states,

“Under the old regime, I never read Valleywag. Now I read it every day. Sure its still snarky. Sure its still evil. But its relevant. Nick is reporting on real stuff, with classic Gawker attitude.”

For example, he covered today’s hype by exposing the story behind the high traffic numbers. First, he colors the piece with the appropriate human elements that make the story tangible and interesting:

“Samir Arora looks so beatifically happy in that photo, and it’s no wonder why: Glam Media, the fashion site headed by the smiling web guru has just raised an astonishing amount of money, $18m…7m [women] visit each month, an achievement of which Glam is so proud that it places the claim in the logo. Unfortunately, as claims go, it’s a stretch, and here’s why:”

Then he goes on to explain how a network of smaller blogs make up the total traffic and that Glam is not as big as you might think.

Denton’s next post is a reaction to Seth Goldstein’s incomprehensible Root Markets business. It’s short, menacing and basically spot on.

“I never understood Seth Goldstein’s most recent company, Root Markets…Root’s website, a blank page with a mysterious log-in box, doesn’t help. And nor does the advertising guru’s personal website, which leads off with the following gobbledygook headline: API: In the middle of the middle, about Poverty & Wealth in the Gesture Economy.”

This kind of journalism, though not for everybody, clearly, and no doubt difficult to get right, is exactly the kind of commentary that creates a center of gravity in a market. He’s creating cocktail party quotable stuff here for the whole industry and maybe even influencing the way people think about what’s going on in the Internet business.

He publishes stories very quickly, often first. Every post is always about people. He may get frivolous, but his viewpoint is always colored by experience in the market rather than some removed personal opinion. His opinion is a filter on the story, not the story itself.

This is exactly how John Battelle initially conceived the editorial voice of The Industry Standard in the early phases of defining the business. He wanted to create Silicon Valley’s Variety. I’d say Nick is well on his way to making that vision happen here.

And as Fred pointed out, the numbers prove that it’s working whether you like what he has to say or not:

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