Brooklyn Bridge Ventures became the largest investor in Editorially last fall and I couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to tell you about it. The round includes Lerer Ventures, who participated with the same level of support, Betaworks and a host of experienced angel investors from the design and creative community.
When Cameron Koczon introduced me to the company, he said they had the “best starting web team he’s ever seen.” He wasn’t overselling either. Mandy Brown is a force. She came into my office, told me the problem she was working on, and what she was going to do about it. She had a quiet confidence that indicated that her team’s success didn’t really matter whether I backed her or not. There’s a very fine line between begging and blowing smoke--where someone just explains how the future is going to play out and the role they’re going to play. I try to be as helpful as possible as an investor, but I know that my own success will be driven by finding teams that don’t necessarily depend on me to create value.
Talking to Mandy about Editorially feels a little bit like hearing someone using creative visualization--an oft attempted psychological tool where preparation and experience seperate the winners from the wishful thinkers.
You see, Mandy and her team--Jason Santa Maria, Ethan Marcotte, David Yee, and Rob Brackett--are extremely passionate about writing and the tools that writers use. What they’ve done, as Mandy writes on her blog, is to “set out to make the best tool for writing and editing, one that understands that good writing—like good design, or good code—is the result of iteration and collaboration.”
For all of you businesspeople out there that doesn’t get how that’s a business, you know that Github thing--the service that developers use to create and collaborate that raised $100 million from Andreessen Horwitz? This is that, for anyone who writes professionally. Why do professionals who write need such a service? As Mandy puts it “what you see is what you get” “is an assumption that’s no longer valid: on a web with hundreds of devices and platforms, and an infinite number of screen sizes — not to mention time-shifting and syndication services — “what you get” is no longer singular.”.
Mandy and her team know that as ecosystems change, so do the tools. As a writer and editor, her vision is to build a tool that not only fits the current environment, but will be relevant going forward as the places where writing winds up remain in a constant state of flux. I wrote before how certain web services have been prescient in their vision for how people will interact with new technologies. Flickr touched off a slew of socially based services and opened up an era of innovation that lasted for nearly a decade. Github ushered in a new style of tools built for flexible, collaborative workforces. The key to success in these areas will be that each entrepreneur will have to adopt the framework that Github has presented for the nuances of their particular problem set. You can’t be “Github for writing” unless you understand something about the way writers want to work, how they need to work in a dynamic ecosystem, and how technology is changing (or not changing) the creative process around writing.
This is where the Editorially team will succeed--and as someone who just celebrated nine years of blogging and who, everyday, needs to deal with the absolute explosion in the creation of written content on the web, I’m excited to be a part of where they’re going.