The TechCrunch to Venture Capital path is well-understood, but TechCrunch to business school? Not quite yet the same trope. Alexia Tsotsis stepped away from her co-EIC role at TechCrunch last year to enroll in the Sloan program at Stanford – essentially a one year MBA.
Hunter Walk: So I know a bit about the Stanford Biz School Sloan Program you’re currently doing since my wife graduated from it too. What was your motivation? Had you been thinking about grad school for a while?
Alexia Tsotsis: If you stop learning, you stop living. I’ve always wanted to go to business school, ever since I knew what it was, and I’ve always wanted to go to Stanford. I went back to school specifically when I did because I was hungry to learn the financial mechanics (the return modeling, etc) behind the startups I had been covering as a writer, in order to better understand them as an analyst and investor. And, I really missed math.
HW: You most recently were co-Editor In Chief of TechCrunch, which put you in a bit in the maelstrom of TC’s own transformation as part of AOL and shifting from reporting to managing. With some additional perspective now having stepped away, how would you describe your period of leadership? What are you most proud of? What might you have done differently?
AT: I owe a lot to Michael Arrington (who hired me), Eric Eldon (who promoted me) and to Matthew Panzarino, who served as co-editor with me. I’m most proud of TechCrunch’s efforts to highlight diversity in tech during and after my time — our $50k Include Diversity program was founded during Eldon and I’s tenure. Both Eric and I and Matthew and I tried to emphasize having a point of view and taking a stand as writers — I wouldn’t do anything differently, but would double down on this point if I were somehow given a do-over.
HW: Are there reporters (covering tech or otherwise) who you just think “damn, they’re an awesome writer!!!” Who do you admire and why?
AT: The aforementioned three in addition to Om Malik, Kara Swisher, Casey Newton, Nitasha Tiku, John Gruber and Kim-Mai Cutler, because they all have a unique voice. I’m addicted to Dan Primack’s daily newsletter, and am glad my former colleague Leena Rao joined him at Fortune. In the same vein, I think my former colleague Colleen Taylor is doing a solid job editing The Macro, and I regularly peruse the work of a lot of the writers I used to work with at TC.
As for non-reporters, I enjoy reading Chris Dixon, Paul Graham, Fred Wilson, Sarah Tavel, Ben Horowitz, MG Siegler, Sam Altman, Joelle Emerson, Hunter Walk [hw note: aww thanks!], Tracy Chou and Mark Suster as well as many others. I also still read Techmeme as much as I did when I was TC co-editor.
HW: Are female journalists (and editors) judged differently than their male counterparts? Were there ever times – maybe when you were doing an interview, or discussing a topic you wanted to cover – where you felt like gender started to factor in?
AT: I’m going to reframe the question: Should gender factor in to any work you do? Unequivocally no. I think we’re heading towards a world where it won’t, and will do as much as I can to make sure that future gets here faster.
HW: What company/topic do you think gets too much attention from today’s tech reporters? What company/topic not enough?
AT: Too much attention: Apple, Facebook, Google and teenage “Snapchats per minute.” Not enough: Privacy, ed-tech, health-tech and other innovations that can help materially improve life, both here and in the developing world.