TechCrunch will release the next version of its smartphone app in September as it continues to expand into new markets, rethinks search tools and technology to support media, and plays off diverse ways to engage readers and startups.
Many TechCrunch readers are desktop bound, but mobile continues to grow at a faster clip. Total readership since 2014 spiked at about 30% in September 2017, but this month will see the strongest leap in traffic to the site in the history of the company, with much of it coming from special events such as Apple's iPhone X and Watch announcements, according to Ned Desmond, COO of TechCrunch and general manager of AOL Tech and Engadget.
Monthly domestic multiplatform traffic for July 2017 reached 9,071,000, with mobile contributing about 71%.
Video also drives traffic to TechCrunch sites, with about 10 million monthly video views on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. On Facebook, TechCrunch has 2.8 million followers, followed by Twitter at 9.6 million 700,000 on Instagram. On the chat app Line, the Korean and Japanese competitor to WhatsApp, TechCrunch boosts 800,000.
Desmond, a self-proclaimed "tech media geek" rather than a tech geek, said mobile is clearly the future for a variety of media. This month, TechCrunch plans to release a new mobile app that will introduce features such as alerts on the home screen based on specific categories that interest the user.
The swipe-interface will be easier to use, Desmond said. Rather than stories opening on a full-page view, they open and shut in a line, he said, making it easier to get through a feed. The new app also integrates Crunchbase, with all the data associated with startups and investments. It provides data from investments.
Disrupt kicked off this week in San Francisco. Next month is a project with Facebook to find the best startups in the region will land the company in Nairobi for the first time. Then it's off to Sydney in November -- another first -- and then to Berlin in December.
When it comes to trends, Desmond shared some strong views on paid readership. In the next few years he sees a strong trend in the rise of paid subscriptions. "This isn't a crystal ball act on my part," he said. "You can see through substantial gains of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Washington Post it works. They are not moving on the same curve, but have come to terms with the fact that to support a high-news organization, readers need to participate in the economics. Readers are getting comfortable in that as well."
This could change TechCrunch's business model. The company is exploring ideas, Desmond said. "News content will always be free," he said, but it could change features in the future. For instance, TechCrunch's sister site, Crunchbase -- which is now an independent company, although Oath owns 30% -- supports a free database of information. It now offers a subscription-based sophisticated search tool. Desmond believes there are similar, valuable services that the company could add.