That would be Rafat Ali, founder of Santa Monica-based PaidContent and related Web sites. He is now the envy of bloggers everywhere for selling to Guardian Media Group. Purchase price - $30 million. Thing is, Ali's success didn't just happen. Mark Glaser at MediaShift lays out why PaidContent made it, not just as a source for technology news, but as a successful business. Among his conclusions:
--Reporting around the clock. Ali often worked late into the night and around the clock to beat mainstream business publications that were wedded to print or broadcast and held stories longer.
--Knowing when to bring in reporters. As Ali's workload increased and the audience got bigger, he was smart enough to hire experienced journalists such as Staci Kramer, David Kaplan and Robert Andrews. Rather than treat the site as a blog where opinion comes first (a la TechCrunch), PaidContent stuck to its newsy angle of breaking news and getting interviews and quotes.
--Pushing boundaries in online ads. PaidContent was one of the first publications to run ads in RSS feeds, and also ran “sponsored posts” that looked like blog posts but were clearly marked as ads. Despite these blurry lines in advertising and editorial, PaidContent never pulled punches in covering the business of its advertisers.
--Keeping its focus, and expanding in a smart way. As PaidContent morphed into the parent company of ContentNext, Ali launched sister blogs MocoNews (mobile news), ContentSutra (online media in India) and PaidContent UK. He started mixers and events that were heavy on networking and serving his community of readers than on flash and commercialism.