The Guardian gets seriously online

Big news in the UK online media world today as The Guardian announced the hiring of Matt McAlister (currently the director of Yahoo!’s developer network in SF). McAlister is something of a web pioneer, pushing the religion of RSS and promoting social networking (which has become quite big, you know?).

This is huge news for the UK online industry, as it also marks a move by Guardian News & Media into previously uncharted territory. It’s becoming apparent that McAlister is fronting a push by the publisher into the world of online development. The Guardian, understanding the limitations of dead-tree media, is diversifying beyond even its successful online news and comment portal model. The Guardian sees itself as a “platform” that will work alongside start-ups, offering support and sharing its resources. It’s unclear whether the new business will provide funding for projects outside of its immediate umbrella.

McAlister explains the move on his blog: –

This is a fantastic opportunity in many ways. Perhaps what’s most appealing to me is the direction the Guardian is going — they are totally focused on building a great online business, and it all starts with great journalism.

The Guardian, which has now ditched its long-standing “Guardian Unlimited” brand, also recently hired Mike Bracken as director of tech dev. who explains the Guardian’s new strategy: –

We want to allow people to connect, and will provide data that people they can reuse and be creative with a vehicle that will help engage smaller agencies and development team in other companies create applications.

Interesting news. The UK may have an impressive gaming and software industry, but beyond a few well-known brands (such as BEBO and the Guardian itself), it’s very much in the shadow of America with regard to the online arena. Will the Guardian’s investment lead to a greater number of successful tech start ups? Let’s hope so.


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