Berlin Startups & Blogs: End of Silicon Allee as a News Blog?

I been writing on a longer post about Jobspotting for about a week now, but the way things are going, I will be spontaneously writing about some more other, more current things first. Before re-starting this blog in late December, I wrote on a fairly extensive post about the state of English-language tech media in Berlin. Basically it was a kind of reaction, follow-up or update on what Christoph Räthke from Berlin Startup Academy wrote back in March ’14, focused on media in English only, as that is more important to me* and also has taken a more “drastic” turn to the negative (than the German-language media), in terms of quality, quantity and relevance. I then decided to scrap the article, among other things because I did not want to start out on a negative note, with critique, lamenting the status quo without doing anything much about it etc.. However, there’s really no way around saying this anymore now: things ain’t pretty!

Back in December, I already wondered if Silicon Allee went on an early Christmas break of sorts, as rather few new articles were published on the site. Even more so in January, with just two new posts published. The explanation I got at a Startup Safary event by Twilio last week, talking to Andrew Haw, Silicon Allee’s resident tennis ace community manager. The full implications of the new strategy, I just understood going on the main site and Silicon Allee’s Medium page today.

There was a shift over to publishing on Medium, but this did not happen completely overnight. Already last year, I sometimes noticed that there was stories published on Medium by Silicon Allee or their team members that I (also) would have expected on their own platform. As I do not have a Medium account, these stories just got to me “by coincidence” (unlike on the blog itself, which I visit regularly). While there is some concerns about the merits of Medium as a platform, by itself this would just mean that I need to change my habits, or a bookmark – if that was all (but it is not).

Looking at the website, and more specifically on the “How Can We Help?” section, Silicon Allee now also wants to do some consulting, plus go down the route of many in (Berlin) tech media and do some PR things², like copywriting and press releases. In terms of writing and publishing, the switch is not just over to Medium, but also towards focusing on specific topics each month (if I understood Andrew correctly). This is quite different from the previous focus on independent³ tech news, on whatever topic happened to be current at the time.

From a business perspective, these changes could be promising. However, it also means one less go-to source for”random news” on startups in Berlin, online, independent, in mid- to long form, in English. This makes it (somewhat) harder for people elsewhere to stay up to date on what is actually going on here and therefore diminishes the visibility of Berlin as an “ecoystem”. At the same time, you could say that it helps to highlight the specific themes (or types of startups) for which Berlin is actually relevant as a hub, if you want to focus on the positives.

Maybe there is simply no money in news, at least not for smaller or independent publishers? Sascha Pallenberg’s MobileGeeks also announced a switch away from a focus on news for the re-launch at the beginning of the year.

 

* Berlin being primarily perceived as a hub with “DACH relevance” is not a very interesting or appealing idea to me.

² Actually this is probably a trend in media in general. Heard of similar things happening at trade publications in the construction industry, from my sister, who has a PR agency covering that field, for example.

³ Yes, you could question the independence or objectivity of the Silicon Allee, too, of course, given their association to the Factory. However, it certainly always was another point of view, somewhat seperate from the one of deutsche-startups (influenced by Rocket), or Vertical Media’s Gründerszene and Venture Village (influenced by Team Europe and now Axel Springer).