This is my last week on the job at Xconomy.
After almost six years, I’m moving on. I’m going to finish writing a biography of Leroy Hood, the pioneer of high-speed DNA sequencing and genomic-based personalized medicine. And then I’ll see what’s next.
When I first joined Xconomy, it had been founded 10 months earlier in Boston, and had already begun to build a reputation as one of the only high-tech news outlets that covered both information technology and life sciences. I was hired to help take our life sciences coverage to a new level. I’m proud to say Xconomy is now a must-read news site for people in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Xconomy’s readership has grown significantly, as has its geographic reach—we now have reporters in nine cities across the U.S., covering a wide range of technology and life sciences companies. I’m leaving our biotech readers in good hands, especially those of our dedicated biotech editor Ben Fidler, with whom I’ve been working closely for the past year. The time is right for me to move on.
This has been quite an adventure in online journalism entrepreneurship. At other companies where I’ve worked, the readers were there, regardless of what you wrote or didn’t, but they seemed more like a set of composite demographic characters than actual people; it was hard to identify with them.
Xconomy, as a startup, was something altogether different. When I joined it was still in the midst of being built and defined. Reporting and writing were just the start. It forced me to stretch in all kinds of new directions. This job required being an entrepreneur, ambassador, proselytizer, recruiter, staff mentor, editor, conference impresario, name badge stuffer, and computer anti-virus technician.
I’d been writing about startups for a decade at big media companies, but here I started to truly understand the kind of high-pressure, ambiguous situations that my readers—many of them in small biotech companies—encounter on a daily basis.
I’ll never forget working alongside my colleagues on the business and editorial sides of the house, and I’ve been moved by their farewell comments. But the most gratifying part of this experience has been the bond I’ve formed with readers. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to meet so many of you, all over the country, doing so many interesting things. I can’t thank the readers of Xconomy enough for all the support over the years, whether it was making time for an interview, writing a guest post, or showing up at an event.
In the early going, it felt like hardly anybody was reading. I remember getting beers with my Seattle tech reporting colleague Greg Huang, and both of us saying, over and over, that if this team could consistently deliver original reporting, and we gave readers something that couldn’t be found anywhere else online, we’d have a shot. It was a lot of hard work. The odds were against us. Yet here we are.
Covering the biotech industry has always provided me with an amazing lens through which to view the world. I’ve reported and written on the latest advances in targeted cancer drugs, immunotherapy, genomics, molecular diagnostics, and more. I’ve reported on the bust and the new bubble. I’ve gotten to know hundreds of fascinating people who run the many interesting biotech companies around the U.S. Xconomy competes with every big media outlet, and I’ve relished every minute of doing so. I’ve conceived conferences to discuss some of the thorny, unresolved issues in the business. I’ve analyzed the industry in my BioBeat column. I’ve served as an op-ed editor, helping many of our readers express their own thoughts succinctly and clearly on Xconomy. It’s been a joy.
I’m sure I will miss the thrill of the breaking-news scoop, and writing a weekly column that, I hope, makes people think. I’ll certainly miss the day-to-day interaction when I crawl into the writer’s cave to finish my Lee Hood book.
But as many readers know, I climb mountains. When I climb one, I need to set my sights on another. That’s where I’m at now. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For those of you who would like to stay in touch, you can find me on LinkedIn and at ldtimmerman [at] gmail.com.
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