WSJ Tech Editor on life after AllThingsD

AllThingsD is dead. Long live WSJD.

On Jan. 1, the Wall Street Journal launched WSJD, a new online technology section that aims to fill the hole left when the paper parted ways with AllThingsD, until recently the linchpin of the Journal’s technology coverage, built by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.

Under the editorship of Jonathan Krim, the paper’s new tech section aims to be global in scope, with full-time dedicated staff in Asia, Europe and Israel. The Journal also announced that it will host a new tech conference, starting in October, to replace the popular AllThingsD conferences. (For their part, Swisher and Mossberg recently announced their new venture will be called Re/code.)

Krim recently spoke with Digiday about the launch of WSJD, the loss of Swisher and Mossberg, and what he predicts will be the biggest tech story of 2014. Excerpts:

Was the departure of Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg a blow to the Journal? Did the paper see that coming?
Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are excellent journalists. I wish them all the best in their new pursuit. It made sense for both organizations — even though we owned them — to go the direction that we’ve gone.

If you type in, it redirects to the new tech vertical. Do you still own the name, and are you going to do anything with that brand going forward? 
Yes, we do own it. I think we’re going to retire that specific name.

AllThingsD would cover media as well as tech. That doesn’t appear to factor in with the new site.
We have a separate bureau that works on media and advertising issues. We may well feature some of their content. There’s a lot of crossover obviously with tech. But that’s not something my team works on, per se.

How are you guys going to differentiate among a very crowded field of tech blogs and journalists?
We have a global reach that no one else has. Technology is a global story. We have a dedicated staff in places like Korea, China, Southeast Asia. We’re adding a full-time dedicated reporter in Israel. We have someone based in Paris; we have London. So we’re uniquely qualified and suited to cover the global tech story in a way that no one else can.

What will be the biggest tech stories of 2014?
First and foremost, the Snowden revelations, which started more as a national security story, has become more of a computer security and privacy story. It’s bigger than anything else right now. There’s a tremendous rethinking going on about the security of data, how data is used, who has access, the rights and expectations of users. I think it’s actually a good thing that a spotlight has been thrown on all of this.

On the enterprise side?
Cloud computing is still working its way through the system and the marketplace in ways that we are still going to be surprised by. It’s going to have a tremendous impact on the provider side and the customer side. And there are obviously numerous interesting stories just with the ongoing contest for the computer that’s in your pocket, whether it’s a smart phone or a phablet or something else. That battle continues to be fascinating.

The Journal has toyed with sponsored posts. Are we going to see more experimentation on your end with advertising products?
I would say that that’s quite likely, yes.

Do you have any traffic goals you want to hit?
We absolutely have goals internally. We’re not sharing them. Remember, too, we are a hybrid paywall and free site, so that is an important factor for us. Obviously it has an impact on traffic. Some of our competition is just totally free. Traffic is not everything for us because we’re interested in gaining audience through subscriptions.

Anything happen in the past year that surprised you?
Valuations are beginning to get somewhat surprising on some of the investment rounds startups are getting.

Are we in a bubble?
I don’t think it’s a bubble now, but I think it’s worth watching. I was here in the Valley working for another publication during the bubble years the last time around. There are some of the early signs, but we’re not there at the moment.

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