Best of VatorTV 2007: The news makers - Ballmer, Wallstrip, Facebook and the other Greenspan

John Shinal · December 27, 2007 · Short URL:

For those covering public and private technology companies, including the latest trends and the personalities driving them, there was no shortage of compelling stories to cover in 2007.

During the past six months, as we ramped up the newsroom to a full-time operation, the list of interesting people that we captured on video and in text grew long indeed.

Over the summer, the most popular stories on our site covered one story that everyone long expected but didn't go according to plan and another that came out of nowhere and made everyone scratch their heads.

The first concerned Apple's iPhone, one of the worst-kept secrets in the long history of Apple product roll outs. Both the media and public stock investors tracked the story like an obsession, poring over every detail and every clue about the iPhone's features that fell from the lips of Steve Jobs.

A backlash is never far behind a buildup like that, and traditional media and the blogosphere pounced on Apple at the first glimpse of a dent in the iPhone teflon. Our own long-time gadget trend watcher, Bambi Francisco, skipped the hyperbole and instead accurately predicted in this post that while the iPhone was clearly a game changer, the company would have to cut its high price to hit Wall Street's most-optimistic sales estimates. 

Weeks later, Jobs did just that. Although he flubbed the price cut like some marketing newbie, the product continues to fly off the shelves, and Apple's stock continues to climb.

Francisco also tracked down WallStrip's Lindsay Campbell and Adam Elend after CBS plunked down $5 million for the edgy site just eight months after its founding. In that interview, Elend explained how the company was about to go through a big change "one way or another," and rather than raise more funds from investors and expand the site on their own, executives there decided to join forces with a deep-pocketed network.

While some jaws dropped at the price, the transaction was a watershed event that will long be remembered as the deal which showed that selling to big entertainment companies is a viable exit strategy for producers of original Web video content.

As the year marched on, Facebook soon took the reins from Apple as the "It" company of the moment. While there were many stories within the story, among the more controversial angles arose after Aaron Greenspan, a former Harvard classmate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, claimed in a New York Times story that the idea behind the site was actually his.

Greenspan, in an email message, said he had referred to his project as "the Face Book"  months before Zuckerberg founded his company. Once again, Francisco got the straight dope for viewers by getting Greenspan on camera to explain the early history of his own social networking site for Harvard students, called houseSYSTEM. That video interview, embedded in this post, is still the most-viewed in the short history of the newsroom.

Also making the Top 5 list of stories was this classic Steve Ballmer performance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, in which the burly ex-jock nearly flew out of his chair as he explained to John Battelle how Microsoft's search product was going to "dunk on the competition someday."

Lastly, the big story at the end of the year was the heated debated between investors as to whether content or distribution would be king of the digital video world. The debate heated up at the NewTeeVee conference in November, and we captured venture capitalist Dennis Miller at the show to share his thoughts on who would get taken by whom when Silicon Valley firms venture to Hollywood to cut new media deals.

We're looking forward to following that one next year for our community.


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