The last few days, the tech blogosphere has been munching on its own tail, with bloggers on all sides pissing and moaning about how awful a job everyone else is doing at covering the goings on in our little world.
Today, though, something happened which — while still a tad insidery and introspective — reminded me that there are plenty of people doing damn good work, sans sound and fury. One of those people is Robin Wauters, who has just announced that he’s leaving TechCrunch to return to The Next Web.
As someone who worked with Robin at TechCrunch, and hung out with him in London and other parts of Europe before that, I saw first hand what a hard worker he is. Always in search of a scoop, always networking, always doing his job, including on the day his son was born. (His wife gave birth wearing a TechCrunch t-shirt — that’s loyalty for you). More important than hard work, Robin’s was good work — and important. Given the time difference between Silicon Valley and Robin’s home in Belgium, Robin was often awake while the rest of us were asleep. As a result, Robin would — sometimes single-handedly — keep TechCrunch alive through the wee-small hours with breaking news from the other side of the pond.
Moreover, the stories Robin posted were often those which Silicon Valley writers might overlook. Stories about European startups and giant companies alike. Mike Butcher did — and does — a great job at TechCrunch Europe, but it was Robin more than anyone else who brought European news to the front page of TechCrunch, day in day out. At the same time, Robin brought the best of US tech stories back to readers in Europe. Both European and US entrepreneurs owe him a huge debt of thanks for that.
Towards the end of our respective times at TechCrunch, Robin and I did not always see eye to eye. While I took a shout-from-the-rooftops approach to what was happening at the site we both loved, Robin preferred to be more dignified. In fact, he wrote a scathing post on his personal blog, telling me — in effect — that I should stop being such a dick. Obviously, I disagreed — and it probably cooled our friendship for a while — but my professional respect for Robin didn’t waver for a second. Just because you personally disagree with someone doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be celebrated for doing good work (the inverse is true too, of course).
For reasons I can’t possibly know, Robin’s departure from TechCrunch didn’t warrant a full ‘goodbye and thankyou’ post on that site. (Greg Kumparak’s departure was treated similarly but hopefully his ‘welcome to Pando‘ post made clear how brilliant we all know his work to be.)
Robin deserves the same. I guess he’s leaving one ‘competitor’ and joining another so perhaps we should be ignoring the news too. But no. Robin is a damn fine reporter, and an asset to the tech industry no matter where he writes. My real hope in writing this post is that readers in the Valley, and the rest of the world outside Europe, immediately add Robin’s reporting at The Next Web to their daily reading list. I already have.
Congratulations Robin — we’re honoured (and healthily nervous) to have you as a competitor.