In the suburb of Petone, on the outskirts of Wellington, New Zealand (pronounced “Noo Zillund”), there lives a quiet, unassuming man with glasses and reddish-blond hair. He has none of the dramatic aggression of an Arrington, none of the elegant contempt of a Huffington. When you meet him, he will not try to impress you with how much he knows. If you don’t already know who he is, he’s unlikely to let slip how many millions turn to him and his team of writers for in-depth, thoughtful analysis. But over the past eight years Richard MacManus’ website Read/Write Web has become one of the most widely read blogs in the world, a trusted purveyor of insight into the tech space.
Two days ago, Richard announced that R/WW had sold to SAY Media. He didn’t specify a price, but TechCrunch pegged the deal at $5 million, prompting our local newspaper to run the headline “Petone’s Millionaire Blogger.” The article began with a testament to his humility: “You'd expect him to be popping champagne corks, but on his first day as a millionaire, Richard MacManus got up at 3.30am, turned on his computer and started working.”
Of course he did. He has spent eight disciplined years working his ass off. He cares, deeply, about what he does. Read/Write Web was not a get-rich-quick scheme; it was an opportunity to make a substantial difference to an industry by helping people understand the dynamics and implications of innovation. It was, in short, a labor of love.
Yesterday, Rodolfo Rosini made a superb observation in TechCrunch: “You see people raising millions for stupid shit. But if you dig deeper you find out that they sold a company to Cisco for ½ billion (and their cheese sandwich restaurant got funded) or built several huge companies (and their photosharing app with no users or purpose got $41m) or pretty much built Facebook (and investors pile up on their social network who can only have 150 friends like it cures cancer) or had multiple rounds of funding already and a completely finished product with tons of users and healthy revenues.”
I’ve seen this over and over, with every new Internet celebrity I think I’ve “discovered.” Inevitably, they turn out to have founded the first-ever magazine devoted to computers, or to have been a part of the team that built the first modem, or to have been developing their blog for a decade, or just in general to have made serious contributions to the industry. That’s the way it works. You show up, day after day and year after year, and you build a castle, brick by brick, and after eight or ten or 20 years you’re an overnight success.
Richard is a terrific, hardworking, humble guy, a credit to our industry and to New Zealand. He has shown up, day after day and year after year. He has built his castle. And he deserves every bit of success he gets.
Congratulations, R/WW. Happy holidays, everyone.