The Road Aheadby Anand Lal Shimpi on August 30, 2014 7:00 PM EST
Both of my parents were teachers, and for as long as I can remember they both encouraged me to do something in life that would help others. I figured being a doctor would be the most obvious way to do that, but growing up around a pair of teachers must’ve rubbed off on me. My venue wouldn’t be the classroom but rather the Internet. On April 26, 1997, armed with very little actual knowledge, I began to share what I had with the world on a little Geocities site named Anand’s Hardware Tech Page. Most of what I knew was wrong or poorly understood, but I was 14 years old at the time. Little did I know that I had nearly two decades ahead of me to fill in the blanks. I liked the idea of sharing knowledge online and the thought of building a resource where everyone who was interested in tech could find something helpful.
That’s the short story of how I started AnandTech. There’s a lot more to it involving an upgrade to the AMD K6, a PC consulting business I ran for 2 years prior and an appreciation for writing that I didn’t know I had - but that’s the gist.
I’m 32 now. The only things that’ve been more of a constant in my life than AnandTech are my parents. I’ve spent over half of my life learning about, testing, analyzing and covering technology. And I have to say, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
But after 17.5 years of digging, testing, analyzing and writing about the most interesting stuff in tech, it’s time for a change. This will be the last thing I write on AnandTech as I am officially retiring from the tech publishing world. Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithAT) is taking over as Editor in Chief of AnandTech. Ryan has been working with us for nearly 10 years, he has a strong background in Computer Science and he’s been shadowing me quite closely for the past couple of years. I am fully confident in Ryan’s ability to carry the torch and pick up where I left off. We’ve grown the staff over the course of this year in anticipation of the move. With a bunch of new faces around AnandTech, all eager to uphold the high standards and unique approach to covering tech, I firmly believe the site can continue to thrive for years to come.
It’s important for me to stress two things: this isn’t a transition because of health or business issues. I am healthy and hope to be even more so now that I won’t be flying nearly 130,000 miles every year. The website and business are both extremely strong. We’ve expanded our staff this year to include a number of new faces contributing to both mobile and more traditional PC categories. Traffic is solid, we are looking forward to a bunch of very exciting launches especially in the final quarters of 2014. On the business side we continue an amazing run of being self sustaining, profitable and growing for every since year since 1997. We don’t talk about business affairs much on the site but we set a number of records in 2013 and expect that to continue. In other words, you don’t have to worry about the ability of the site to continue to operate.
Even though I’ve been doing this for nearly 18 years, we’ve evolved with the industry. AnandTech started as a site that primarily reviewed motherboards, then we added CPUs, video cards, cases, notebooks, Macs, smartphones, tablets and anything else that mattered. The site today is just as strong in coverage of new mobile devices as it is in our traditional PC component coverage and there’s a roadmap in place to continue to support both sides of the business. Our learnings in the PC component space helped us approach mobile the right way, and our learnings in the mobile space have helped us bring the PC enthusiast message to a broader audience than would’ve ever seen it before.
Over the past year I’ve transitioned many of my personal coverage areas to other ATers. Ian took over CPUs not too long ago and Josh has been flying solo with our mobile coverage for a bit now. Even the articles I helped co-author with Josh were 90% his. Kristian has more or less been running our entire SSD review program at AnandTech for a while now and he’s been doing a tremendous job. I remember editing one of his pieces and thinking wow, this kid knows more than me. In fact I’d go as far as to say that about all of our editors at this point. We’ve got a sea of specialists here and each one of them knows more than me about the area in which they cover. I’m beyond proud of them all and honored to have worked with them.
On a personal level I’ve made myself available to all AnandTech editors for advice and guidance, however I have fully removed myself from the editorial process. I can offer a suggestion on how to deal with a situation so long as describing the situation does not reveal any confidential information to me.
Thank You All
To everyone I worked with in the industry - thank you for the support and help over the years. You were my mentors. You showed kindness and support to a kid who just showed up one day. I learned from you and every last one of you influenced me at a very formative period in my life. The chance you all took on me, the opportunities, and education you provided all mean the world to me. You trusted me with your products, your engineers and your knowledge - thank you.
To Larry, Cara, Mike, Howard, Virginia, Hilary and the rest of the LMCD team that has supported (and continues to support) AnandTech for almost its entire life, I thank you for making all of this possible. I learned so much about the business side of this world from you all and it helped give me perspective and knowledge that I could have never gotten on my own. For those who don't know them, the LMCD crew is responsible for the advertising side of AnandTech. They've made sure that the lights remained on and were instrumental in fueling some of our biggest growth spurts.
To the AnandTech editors and staff, both present and past, you guys are awesome. You are easily some of the hardest working, most talented and passionate enthusiasts I've ever encountered. Your knowledge always humbles me and the effort that you've put into the site puts my own to shame. You've always been asked to do the best job possible under sometimes insane time constraints and you've always delivered. I know each and every one of you will have a bright future ahead of you. This is your ship to steer now and I couldn't be happier with the crew.
To the millions of readers who have visited and supported me and the site over the past 17+ years, I owe you my deepest gratitude. You all enabled me to spend over half of my life learning more than I ever could have in any other position. The education I’ve received doing this job and the ability to serve you all with it is the most amazing gift anyone could ever ask for. You enabled me to get the education of a lifetime and I will never be able to repay you for that. Thank you.
I’ve always said that AnandTech is your site and I continue to believe that today. Your support, criticism and push to make us better is what allowed us to grow and succeed.
In the publishing world I always hear people talk about ignoring the comments to articles as a way of keeping sane. While I understood the premise, it’s not something I ever really followed or believed in. Some of the feedback can be harsh, but I do believe that it’s almost always because you expect more from us and want us to do better. That sort of free education and immediate response you all have provided me and the rest of the AnandTech team for years is invaluable. I’m beyond proud and honored by the AnandTech audience. I believe we have some of the most insightful readers I’ve ever encountered. It’s not just our interactions that I’m proud of, but literally every company that we work with recognizes the quality of the audience and the extreme influence you all exert on the market. You’re paid attention to, respected and sometimes even feared by some of biggest names in this industry. By being readers and commenters you help keep our industry in check.
I hope you will show Ryan and the rest of the AnandTech team the same respect and courtesy that you’ve shown me over the past 17.5 years. I hope that you’ll continue to push them as you did me, and that you’ll hold the same high standards you have for so long now.
In our About Us page I write about the Cable TV-ification of the web and the trend of media in general towards the lowest common denominator. By reading and supporting AnandTech you’re helping to buck the trend. I don’t believe the world needs to be full of AnandTech-like publications, but if you like what we do I do firmly believe it’s possible to create and sustain these types of sites today. The good news is the market seems to once again value high quality content. I think web publishing has a bright future ahead of it, as long as audiences like AnandTech’s continue to exist and support publishers they value.
As for me, I won’t stay idle forever. There are a bunch of challenges out there :) You can follow me on Twitter or if you want to email me I’ve created a new public gmail account - email@example.com.
Thanks for the memories and the support. I really do owe you all a tremendous debt of gratitude. I hope that my work and the work that continues at AnandTech will serve as a token of my appreciation.