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TechCrush: The Interview

TechCrush: The Interview

Earlier in the week, TechCrush debuted as the counterpart to the ubiquitous TechCrush TechCrunch. TechCrush is a fledgling startup that was created on a sugggestion by Stowe Boyd by a couple of German entrepreneurs, Lutz Winters and Yves Luther. It is set up to follow on Web2.0 startups profiled on TechCrunch, with an aim to provide a sense of checks and balances to the sometimes exuberant attitude which accompanies each profile.

Out of interest, I picked up on the story at my own blog, catching the notice of Michael Arrington.

A few days later TechCrush shut down temporarily for some apparent legal issues. I had suspected that lawyers for TechCrunch got concerned about trademark issues since their names were so similar, particularly because Mr. Arrington had mentioned it might be the case. It quickly gained traction for a few hours in the blogosphere as Valleywag and Techmeme picked up on the topic.

To everyone’s relief, (and Michael Arrington’s credit) however, it was resolved collegially with the exchange of a few emails and a couple phone calls — and without the threat of cease and desist letters. Mr. Arrington did a great deal of work to describe in a blow-by-blow fashion all of the gory details at Crunchnotes on Friday.

Since we’ve heard Mr. Arrington’s side of things, I thought it would be interesting to ask one of the principles over at TechCrush his thoughts on the matter; so, I sat down with Lutz Winter, one of the three authors over at TechCrush to ask him a few questions.

Tony Hung (TH): Did you ever forsee TechCrush running into a trademark issue with TechCrunch? How did you feel it was handled?

Lutz Winters (LW): Well, somewhat. At least we did not anticipate the stirr-up we caused, so this was not a planned guerrilla-marketing-move, LOL. But we were aware of possible issues.

We turned down several names for this blog in the first place, because we knew they would cause certain trouble with TechCrunch (please don’t ask). Finally, we eventually stuck with Techcrush as a way to ridicule the original (with the name being available on the TLDs .com, .net and .de)…

Still, I felt a mild shock when I stumbled upon Michael’s comment on your blog — everything was happening so quick. I immediately reached out to him, and we solved the matter in just one day. Having experienced a sort-of breach of my own trademarks already in the past, I felt Michael’s reaction was extremely cordially and professional. I’m very gratious[sic], Michael seems to be really an ok-guy.

TH: What are your immediate plans with TechCrush?

LW: After the buzz, I read quite some opinions eager for balanced post-hype reviews. This suits my typical style of blogging and would therefor have been a natural part of Techcrush anyway, but now I’m going to do this on a much more conscious level. I would graze not only Techcrunch’s archives, but also other blogs like Mashable and /Message.

Some companies would be more interesting to me, e.g. the ones *not* being revisited by Michael so far. Others might be excluded from my list, because they clearly belong to Stowe’s Memes, so he could write something much more insightful as a co-author.

Everything will still have to grow organically into place, as this was such a rapid time-to-market project. :)

In the past 3 or 4 days our amount of readers was growing by roughly 200 uniques per day. We will need to start thinking about traffic-costs and advertisement, if this will continue over the next 1 or 2 months.

TH: Was Stowe Boyd really the catalyst for all this — or had you started planning something along the lines of TechCrush even before that?

LW: No, it was Stowe’s brainchild completely, and I give him full credit for this great idea. After I read his article on Techmunch, I immediately felt that I would need to build this (before anybody else does, LOL). I asked my friend and colleague Yves Luther to join in on this project. While we were brainstorming some ideas and coding up WordPress, Stowe got in touch with us to contribute to Techcrush every now and then — we’re happy to have him on board.

TH: Where do you see you and TechCrush heading?

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LW: Right now I don’t see myself as a professional full-time blogger, and I don’t see revenue generation as a primary goal for Techcrush. I would be glad if Techcrush would turn out to be a valuable contribution to the web2.0-blogosphere. Otherwise I’m fully occupied at the moment building up “Linking People”, a web-startup in Hong Kong, together with my colleagues. This my center of gravity, really, for the next one or two years.

But everybody on the Internet needs to snap at a chance, and strike while the iron is hot. In that way I’m also curious what Techcrush will become over the next months.

Besides, this is not a one-man-show. My colleague Yves is literally the house-owner and -keeper of the Crush Room, so the two of us will decide together on Techrush’s direction.

TH: Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

LW: I studied interactive design, and I’m working as a freelancing web-designer for roughly 10 years now. As a co-founder of a web-agency in Duesseldorf, I’m working a lot as a sub-contractor to bigger companies like GREY. Since 1 or 2 years my colleagues and me decided to shift our business-model from building websites for clients to building consumer web-apps. As China is still hot internet-wise, I’m also co-founder of web-company in Hong Kong. Web 2.0 and Groupware-solutions are my main field of interest on the web.

TH: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview

LW: Sure, you’re welcome.

Dr. Tony Hung blogs over at Deep Jive Interests, and hopes, perhaps naively, that most of these trademark issues can be sorted out by chat over a cup of coffee.

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