We are back with a new episode of the WitzEnd podcast. This week we speak with Chris Preimesberger, the Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK. His work spans over three decades, covering the IT industry in a variety of sectors making himself a household name in his own right. He is also the creator of eWEEK Innovation site and of #eWEEKchat – a real-time chat room where people can tune into and talk all things IT. Chris joins us to talk about his career, the rise of the internet, his first gig as a “copy boy,” and how Apple was almost not the Apple we know today.
Here are the biggest takeaways from our conversation. If you like what you’re reading be sure to listen to the whole episode, linked at the bottom of this page.
Stand-up comics have to play the small clubs, rock stars have to play the bars, and journalists have to write obituaries
“My first job out of college was with the L.A. Daily News. They made me the Copy Boy. That was the name of the job. There were female Copy Boys, too, so I don’t know how to explain that. One day I got an idea for a story that I pitched to the City Editor, and the idea was to write about the Centennial of Custer’s Last Stand. There was a local historian who knew all about Custer’s Land Stand and she would tell me about the real significance of it in American history. The Editor said, ‘that’s a reach, but go ahead.’ I went off and interviewed the historian, so that was my first professional feature story. I guess I had written it with a certain amount of humor and verve, and the City Editor liked the way it was written. So, I got to do other things like the weather and obituaries. We all have to pay our dues.”
It’s the internet. It’s coming
“I was a late comer to IT. I didn’t start until 1995. A job at Stanford brought me to the Bay area in the sports information department, and that was a connecting factor for me and my career. When you work at a place like Stanford, you work nationally and internationally. In any case, three years there lead me to a job at the Palo Alto Times. I was the youngest editor there at age 29, so I worked there for ten years. But in the early 1990’s, I could see that the newspaper business was starting to fade. This was even before the internet. Our numbers weren’t very good, I looked around and I said, ‘what do we do in the Bay area?’ Ding, Ding, Ding! We do IT. I was very lucky to make the jump from newspapers to the internet very early. I love these trend waves of what’s coming next, so that is what keeps me interested in reporting on IT.”
Sun Microsystems almost bought Apple for $7.00 a share
“Sun Microsystems was up, and Apple was down in 1997. I wrote about this after I interviewed Ed Zander, former president of Sun Microsystems and Scott McNeely, former CEO of Sun Microsystems. Steve Jobs had been away for 12 years, and Apple was not innovating. It turned out that Sun Microsystems put an offer in for Apple and had been tentatively accepted to buy the entire company for seven dollars a share. Ed was in San Diego at a Gartner conference, about to make the announcement, but before he leaves his hotel room he gets a phone call from a lawyer at Apple. The lawyer tells Ed that they cannot make the announcement at the Gartner conference and they have to wait till a later date. The deal obviously was never consummated. That lawyer was calling because Jobs was coming back to Apple. Jobs created the iMac, saved Apple, and the rest is history. Speed forward to 2012, I was speaking with Ed and Scott, and Scott said that they came very close to buying Apple, but it wouldn’t have worked stating, ‘we would have f-ed up the iPhone.’
For PR Folks - do your homework
“I really appreciate good marketing or public relations people who have done their homework. They know which stories we tend to cover, our style, and when they come to me with a well-thought-out pitch, I personally love that.”
If you’re persistent, you will break through
“Always email me first and then knock on the door a few times. Don’t be afraid to send me the same email five times. I do look at new emails, especially if the pitch is on a topic that we are
writing about that would be interesting for our readers.” If you've enjoyed these takeaways be sure to listen to our full interview below. Also be sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud.
If you've enjoyed these takeaways be sure to listen to our full interview below. Also be sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud.