Michael Carney is a West Coast Editor at technology publication PandoDaily. Michael covers everything including venture capital, financial technologies, ecommerce, on-demand services, and the future of television, among other subjects. Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, talks to Michael about how he became a journalist, the Silicon Beach scene and PandoDaily.
Erik Huberman: What made you want to become a journalist?
Michael Carney: It’s funny, that’s a question I get a lot and the answer I tend to give is that it was a total, fortune accident. Before PandoDaily I was working at small investment firm here in LA. I was doing some technology investing in much wider range of investing which included mining, real estate, a variety of things. When I left that firm, I was looking for ways to better engage with the local technology community. That was something I was excited about and PandoDaily had just launched. I reached out to Sarah Lacy about contributing as a guest columnist and would never have thought it would turn into a job, or even to be paid. It was just something I was interested in and it seemed like a good way to get some thoughts out there and meet some people. It turned out to be this serendipitous thing that I’ve enjoyed and has blossomed into something much bigger than I expected when I reached out just about two and a half years ago.
E: Tell me about PandoDaily
M: PandoDaily is a technology publication based in San Francisco looking to tell what I think is the defining story of this era. Which is the intersection of technology and business and politics and culture and all of these things that are creating a power shift, in my opinion, from New York finance and Washington DC politics to the West Coast, specifically Silicon Valley, and more recently Los Angeles, or Silicon Beach. The West Coast is where some of the most powerful and influential companies are being created and changing the way that everyone lives their lives. It’s a very important story and we’re trying to tell that story, to pull people involved in creating those stories and providing information to entrepreneurs and consumers and investors about what’s really going on.
E: How are you changing the world?
M: If you believe what I just said that some of the most important, or maybe the most important, companies in the world are being created today, and are coming out of this technology ecosystem, then certainly by holding the people behind those companies accountable and telling the real stories about how these companies are built, and what they stand for, and who’s involved, and what they potentially have to change the way we live our lives, I think that’s incredibly important and has the ability to change the world. I think journalism in general is very important and if you believe this is an important story then there’s no question that doing journalism in this space is potentially world changing.
E: What do you think of the Silicon Beach scene as you’ve watched it grow?
M: It’s been amazing. I’ve lived here personally for much longer than I’ve been focused on the technology community. I’ve lived here for a decade and I’ve been focused really on technology for about five years. In just that time, the volume and level of excitement in entrepreneurship, technology and innovation happening in LA seems to have accelerated tremendously. Some of it might just be awareness; there was certainly an ecosystem in the community of people building technology here for much longer than that, but something seems to have really caught on and caused a tipping point in the last two to three years and it’s incredibly exciting. I think LA is a great place for a technology company to be built and there’s a lot of the right ingredients here available and some of the best companies of this generation are currently being built here. I’ve really enjoyed being part of it. I think it’s only going to get better and it takes time and people often talk about it being the next Silicon Valley. I don’t think that’s a great aspiration, but in terms of it being a sustainable and impactful and meaningful creator of technology, I think LA will be that for a long time.
E: You’ve obviously talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, what would be one piece of advice you’d give them from all your experience that you would want to share to help with their success?
M: If you’re just starting out, I always say the best companies and products are built by people that are solving problems that they themselves personally and intimately feel and understand. I think it’s very difficult to create a solution to a problem you haven’t experienced. Starting there is a good thing, and just starting is another good thing. The hardest part of entrepreneurship is taking leaps. Whether that be taking the leap to start a job, or asking for money, or dedicating you time on a project that at the moment is just an idea in your head. Starting is the hardest part.
E: Is there anything you’d like to share with the Santa Monica community?
M: If you’re not already part of the technology community, or you’re uncertain about what is happening here. You’re reading this column, but you’re not apart of it. I’d say this is something that has the ability to be tremendously positive and impactful for Santa Monica and the LA area at large. Anything that the local community, politicians, anything anybody can do to support technology and innovation in LA is an enormously positive thing for everybody involved. I would encourage people be aware of what is going on here.