David Pogue, who reviews gadgets for the New York Times, is leaving to help start a consumer- technology site for Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), another key exit for one of the most-read U.S. newspapers.
Pogue will be hiring a staff to help produce columns, blog posts and videos for Yahoo, he said in an e-mail. After spending 13 years at the Times, where he praised products such as Apple’s iPhone, he said Yahoo is giving him a “dream” opportunity.
In contrast to the many tech blogs online, Pogue said he wants to build “a site for normal people,” that features how- tos, secret features, troubleshooting and consumer advocacy — “the stuff I thrive on,” he said.
The New York Times is grappling with how to retain writers who have developed their own personal brands and followings online. Nate Silver, the statistics blogger who correctly called every U.S. state in the last presidential election, took his FiveThirtyEight blog to Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN earlier this year.
Under Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has been investing in its products with acquisitions, upgrades and new content amid a turnaround effort. Since last year the company has released new versions of photo-sharing site Flickr as well as its news and sports sites.
Meanwhile, for the third month in a row, more Americans visited Yahoo’s websites than Google’s, according to comScore Inc.’s Internet traffic data for September.
The research firm said Monday that Yahoo Inc.’s websites had 197.8 million unique U.S. visitors last month, while Google’s had 191.4 million. Yahoo was ahead of Google in July and August, too. The last time that Yahoo was ahead of Google before that was in May 2011.
That said, Yahoo is still far behind Google in making money from the people who visit its websites. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Google will generate $38.83 billion in worldwide digital ad revenue this year, more than any other company. Facebook Inc. is at No. 2 with an estimated $5.89 billion, while Yahoo is No. 3 with $3.63 billion expected.
“David will lead a major expansion of consumer tech coverage on Yahoo,” Mayer said on a company blog post. “Yahoo is in a unique position to bring to life great editorial about the technology consumers are using every day.”
Pogue said his plans at Yahoo could include a technology conference. Such events have become a lucrative companion business to tech blogs such as AllThingsD, owned by News Corp., and TechCrunch, part of AOL Inc.
Yahoo brought on another Times journalist, Megan Liberman, as editor-in-chief for Yahoo News earlier this year as it seeks to improve and expand its content. The company has struck partnerships to use programming from ABC News and NBC Sports. Last month, it announced a new fall comedy lineup. It also is showing users clips from Viacom Inc.’s Comedy Central and MTV shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and more.
Pogue follows another of the consumer-technology industry’s most influential columnists, Walt Mossberg, in leaving the newspaper business. Mossberg won’t renew his contract with the Wall Street Journal when it expires by the end of this year, choosing instead to start a new venture, he said last month. The Journal is the biggest newspaper in the U.S. by circulation, followed by the Times.
“David has been a valued member of our technology team,” said Dean Murphy, business editor at the New York Times, and Suzanne Spector, technology editor, in a staff memo. “We thank him for a great run, and wish him well in his new adventure.”
While Pogue’s column, and an accompanying e-mail newsletter, was a popular Times feature, his moonlighting jobs and a personal relationship led to criticism of potential conflicts of interest. A post in the Atlantic Wire highlighted companies he has praised that are also clients of public- relations agency OutCast, where his wife works. Pogue has said he doesn’t write about clients his wife represents.
Pogue also has written instruction manuals for software he has reviewed in his Times column, a practice the newspaper’s former public editor, Clark Hoyt, called a “clear conflict of interest.” The Times posted an ethics statement by Pogue on its website and began requiring him to disclose the books he has written. Pogue is an Emmy-winning correspondent on “CBS Sunday Morning,” according to his website. He also hosts the “NOVA ScienceNow” television series on PBS.