Matt Watson buys developer-focused blog, bets on big growth
Nearly a decade ago, Matt Watson was asked by a friend to be the first blogger of Geeks With Blogs, a site that aimed to provide developers a free and open blogging platform. Watson's friend, Jeff Julian, created Geeks With Blogs after being booted from a similar site following a disagreement with another blogger. Today,
The Geeks With Blogs community averages 500 posts per month.
Watson’s friend, Jeff Julian (near left), created Geeks With Blogs after being booted from a similar site following a disagreement with another blogger.
Today, the site touts more than 3,500 bloggers, an average of 500 posts per month and 75 million visitors over the past five years.* And, Geeks With Blogs announced Tuesday, its first blogger is now its new owner.
Watson Technology Group, a Kansas City, Mo.-based tech investment firm managed by Watson, acquired Geeks With Blogs from AJI Software, a software consulting and development firm co-founded by Julian. Though the purchase price has not been disclosed, Watson said in a phone interview Tuesday it was “a lot less than $1 million” but more than $100,000.
“Our goal is to turn (Geeks With Blogs) into the number one community for software developers,” Watson said. “You could go get a blog on Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr or all these places, but this site is going to be dedicated and designed around software developers and that functionality that they would care about.”
Watson, who noted the site is due for upgrades to its design and back-end, said Geeks with Blogs was an attractive acquisition because it generates ad revenue and brings with it a developer community and strategic relationship with Microsoft. The latter two characteristics are beneficial for Watson’s current startup, Stackify, a suite of tools for software developers.
“(It gives) us a lot of advertising possibilities and exposure type stuff to the audience,” Watson said. But he explained there will be a division between the two. “What I don’t want to do is mess up the community by getting Stackify involved,” he said. “I want it to be a separate business all on its own.”
“Our goal is to turn (Geeks With Blogs) into the number one community for software developers.” – Matt Watson
Watson now oversees Geeks With Blogs, including daily moderation of the site, but he plans to make a couple of hires in the immediate future and hopes to complete the site upgrade by year’s end.
“There’s so much more that can be done with the site that (the previous owners) just never did,” Watson said. “So I think the site will be four (to) five times the size it is now next year, just with a little bit of work.”
Though Watson doesn’t believe any other developer-focused blogging communities have as much traction as Geeks With Blogs – “they’re just a hundred bloggers or a couple hundred bloggers,” he said – he’s cognizant of Microsoft and ASP.NET blogs that have strong followings.
Julian said in an email interview that he decided to sell Geeks With Blogs because he wanted to build the consulting company that owned it. So when Watson approached him this summer about advertising opportunities on Geeks With Blogs, he let him know about the search for a buyer. Watson later expressed interest.
“Matt was a clear choice, as he has the passion needed to take (Geeks With Blogs) to the next level and trust him to do a good job,” Julian said.
The acquisition of Geeks With Blogs is Watson’s first such deal. In May 2011, he sold VIN Solutions, a company he co-founded, to AutoTrader.com. He has since founded and funded his own startup along with angel investing in others, including AgLocal and ABPathfinder.
Update 6:45 p.m. – When published, article stated Geeks With Blogs has had 75 million visitors since its launch. The site has had 75 million visitors over the past five years. The article has been updated to fix this error.
Credits: Screenshot from geekswithblogs.net. Photos of Matt Watson and Jeff Julian courtesy of Watson and Julian, respectively.
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