David Pogue, a well-known tech columnist at the New York Times, is leaving the storied newspaper for a brand new venture at Yahoo -- a move that speaks volumes more than just a new job on a new project.
Announced by CEO Marissa Mayer on Monday morning, Pogue will be leading "a major expansion of consumer tech coverage on Yahoo and will publish columns, blog posts and video stories that demystify the gadgets, apps and technology that powers our users’ daily lives."
That description taps into Mayer's now-standard rhetoric about Yahoo's business strategy based on supporting "daily habits," such as checking e-mail, stocks, weather, and news. The initiative also reinforces Yahoo's digital media efforts -- goals that have been in place well before Mayer arrived at the then-beleaguered tech company in July 2012.
However, while still a work in process, it is arguable that those goals weren't even close to being fully fleshed out and realized until Mayer took over the chief executive's office.
Pogue appears to agree, remarking in a Tumblr post (naturally) that while he has given "a few swift kicks" to Yahoo over the years, the Sunnyvale company is now the place to be in Silicon Valley.
Departing from the Grey Lady is no small decision unto itself -- albeit it falls in line with perhaps a startling trend of high-profile journalists leaving established publications for new ventures financed by titans in both the Valley and on Wall Street. (Just look at Glenn Greenwald's departure from The Guardian last week.)
Regardless, Pogue credits Mayer primarily for that dynamic and mood shift, describing basically what everyone is thinking about how far Yahoo has come (at least from an outsider's perspective) in two short years:
This is a company that’s young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years. Since she took over a year ago, Yahoo has regained its position as the #1 most visited Web site on earth. She’s overseen brilliant overhauls of several Yahoo sites and apps, and had the courage to shut down the derelict ones.
Above all, she’s created a “try stuff” atmosphere. She calls Yahoo “the world’s biggest startup.” People can really make a difference there. Yahoo is getting 12,000 résumés a week from would-be employees. Clearly, underdog status can be an incredibly motivating force. And for people who like to create cool new stuff — I’m among them — working to build the new Yahoo is a very attractive proposition.
A launch date for Yahoo's extended tech coverage hasn't been published yet, but Pogue noted he'll be starting at Yahoo within a few weeks.