Welcome to a New Era for Thurrott.com!

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Knowing that something bad is coming doesn’t make it any easier when the hammer falls. And such was the case in 2014, when Penton concluded the horrible years-long process of making Windows IT Pro less and less autonomous. It culminated in the one-two punch of layoffs that left only two people with jobs behind. I was one of them.

I don’t want to overstate my importance, but I was driving a lot of traffic to the Windows IT Pro site from my SuperSite for Windows at the time, and I was told that my job was secure. And that was, of course, the day I decided to quit, partially out of loyalty to my fallen coworkers, many of whom had been there far longer than me, and partly because I’d had it working for an unfeeling and unthinking corporate conglomerate. The only questions were where I’d go and how quickly. I spoke to a few other publications, but what I really wanted to do was keep doing what I’d done for the previous many years. But on my own.

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And so I hatched a plan: Penton could simply give me the SuperSite and I would continue driving traffic to Windows IT Pro as I’d always done. My boss ran the numbers and loved this idea, as did her boss and her boss’s boss. It was only when it hit the vice-presidential level—literally, the same person who had laid off all my friends and coworkers—that I hit a wall. I was told that the SuperSite was a “corporate asset” and that I’d have to pay to take it with me. The fee? Laughably, it was over one million dollars.

In an incredible bit of timing, Plan B appeared as if out of thin air: Jeff James, a friend and former coworker who had left Penton before the layoffs, was by then working at BWW Media Group, a small Chicago-based company that had purchased a site called Petri that catered to the same audience as had the suddenly neutered Windows IT Pro. (Daniel Petri had started the site right around the time I started the SuperSite for Windows, too.) Would I be interested in joining BWW?

Maybe. And so Jeff flew to Boston with BWW’s owner, George Coll, to meet with me. We met twice in as many days, and during the first meeting, I suggested that they come back to the house so they could meet my wife Stephanie. A few weeks later, I flew to Chicago and attended the BWW holiday party, where I met its small team of employees.

I will never forget that moment. I knew and loved Jeff already, and I could tell that George was both a good guy and a straight shooter. But sitting at the end of the table during dinner with his team, I watched as they all interacted, in twos, in little groups, and together as one. I listened to the conversations and the laughter, and I suddenly realized that this was what Penton had taken away from me. This could be a path forward.

There was just one problem: I didn’t want to come out on the other side of this relationship having built something that would just be taken away from me, as had happened with Penton. My long-term plans had never changed: I always saw myself working and writing forever, not retiring in any traditional sense but instead continuing to find purpose and reason. What if this didn’t work out? Would I need to start over yet again?

Here, I will again voice my love for George, who makes promises and keeps them, who always tries to find an answer that can work for everyone, and who told me that I would emerge on the other side of this partnership whole no matter what. We agreed that I would essentially continue doing what I did at the SuperSite for Windows, but at some new web publication, and that I wouldn’t lose my work or my identity if our partnership ever ended. Which was key, because we settled on using my last name for the new site against my wishes. (Finding good domains now is hard.)

We didn’t have a schedule. But it was understood that we would partner with each other, that I would be a minority owner of this new thing, and that over time I would likely take control of my part of it entirely. In my head, I was thinking 5 to 7 years, I guess, but I kept that to myself. And besides, I really enjoyed the comradery and friendships that developed at BWW. We were—and still are—a family, because of our shared experiences, and our shared successes and defeats.

My minority stake meant that I was both an owner, sort of, and an employee. That was my choice. I’m financially conservative and decided I’d rather get a set salary each month plus benefits rather than ride an up-and-down rollercoaster at a time when my kids would leave high school and head off to college. And, honestly, I got comfortable: I loved being at BWW, loved working with George and the team, and I stopped thinking about the future.

And then COVID happened. I’ve described the pandemic as a force multiplier, something that sped up industry trends that were happening anyway. And that was the case for us at BWW, too, as we experienced challenges, as did so many other businesses, that continued through the end of 2022. George and I started talking again about our partnership and the future, and how it might evolve to address the challenges of this economic climate. And we ultimately decided that maybe now was the right time—not the ideal time, necessarily, but the right time—to pull the trigger.

This is a long-winded way of saying that George is coming through on his promises, as I always knew he would, and is letting me take Thurrott.com with me. And that this isn’t really the end of anything, but rather a reshuffling of our partnership and the family dynamic he created. So, I now own Thurrott.com outright, but Brad, Russell, and Laurent will all still provide the same content here as they always have, while maintaining their respective relationships with BWW too. I might still appear on the occasional BWW webinar and will help them out where possible. We will share some sales opportunities. And so on.

Given our relationship and how I’ve come to know, love, and admire the man, I can’t say I’m surprised that George is doing the one thing for me that Penton would not. But it’s still incredible.

And scary. We’re doing this at a time in which we’ve established temporary residency in Mexico and have sold our house, and it’s a lot to take in all at once. Our daughter came home for a few days one weekend when this was just starting, and after we described everything that was happening, she said, “that’s so exciting!” That’s not the word I would have used, I told her—I was thinking more along the lines of “terrifying”—but I appreciated the positivity. And she’s right. It is exciting.

Speaking of relationships, another major change that’s occurring as part of this transition is that the “we” of Thurrott.com is shifting from me and George to being me and my wife Stephanie. She’s been a constant of sorts in the background, and she pops up from time to time in my writing. But she and I will be splitting the business-related duties of this site going forward, and she’s handling the bills, the SEO, and the business development. It’s interesting having her explain to me which articles have made the most money or have the most views during walks, for example. This is a still-strange new chapter in our relationship.

Of course, everything I’ve written so far is about me. And what you want to know, what you deserve to know, is how this impacts you.

Here, again, I have good news that can be described more succinctly: for the most part, nothing will change, at least in a negative sense.

Indeed, nothing has changed: as it turns out, we quietly transitioned Thurrott.com to my ownership as Thurrott LLC back in March, though certain pieces are still in play because some of this is complicated and time-consuming. But I will now start writing more about the changes we do make to the site as they happen—like this example from April—and using feedback to drive that. And I will write a series of articles about the work I’m doing on the back end and business side, like comments moderation and customer service, that I think many will find interesting. The goal is to approach this business like I approach everything else, with full transparency.

That said, there is one change that will impact you. Through today, we’ve sent out Thurrott Daily each day, Monday through Friday, highlighting some of the most interesting articles on the site that day. And on Mondays, we’ve sent out the Thurrott Premium newsletter, which includes my “From the Editor’s Desk” editorial.

This is going to change. And as I noted in the most recent (and last) issues of our Premium and Daily newsletters, we are partnering with someone on our email newsletters. So the newsletters you receive going forward will be different and will be delivered on a different schedule. But it took some work to get to this point.

One of the many things my wife and I needed to figure out while transitioning the site to our new business was the email newsletters. Doing this ourselves would be prohibitively expensive. In researching possible solutions, we found no good answers, but then a conversation with Lisa Laporte—the CEO of TWiT, and someone I trust and confided in with these business matters—led to an interesting possibility. She recommended that I speak with JR Raphael, a personal technology journalist and columnist who has appeared regularly on TWiT’s podcasts and had turned his own email newsletter into a successful business.

I’ve known JR for a long time. Not known known, if you will, but known virtually for many years through his writings about Android and ChromeOS. And while this isn’t true of many people in my industry, JR is someone I trust, and someone whose writing I enjoy. And so I reached out to him, wondering if there wasn’t something we could do together.

There was. After describing my admiration for his work, JR told me that he’d been following my writing as well, and we hit it off immediately. More to the point, he was looking to expand past his own newsletter, Android Intelligence, and this seemed like a good fit. And so we went back and forth again and again, hammering out what I hope is, and want to be, a partnership that makes sense for both sides. And so the Thurrott.com newsletters will transition into a new newsletter, called Windows Intelligence, that is created by JR and his team at Android Intelligence. This newsletter will largely consist of original writing, and it will feature links to content from Thurrott.com, as before—creating an important connection to the work that Laurent and I do on the site, and to the previous newsletters—and to other relevant resources.

And here, too, I have good news: JR was somehow able to convince Chris Hoffman, the Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek, to walk away from a job he’s had since 2010 and join him to help create Windows Intelligence. Chris is another of those few people in this industry whose writing and perspective I’ve long admired, and so I was delighted and surprised when he signed on board. And I’m just as delighted with what he’s doing with this new newsletter.

Like me, Chris has been invested in the Windows ecosystem for the past 30 years and, like me, he’s no cheerleader. He has the solid foundation needed to deliver the practical tips, tricks, and news that you want from this newsletter, and he will deliver it in his own succinct and readable style. And Chris has the same passion for the subject matter as I do, the same desire to share it with others. I think you’re going to love this new newsletter.

There are no gotchas here. Windows Intelligence is free, and it will of course be modeled on Android Intelligence. It will be published three days each week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with the latter being the flagship publication, giving subscribers the option of getting all three or just the Friday edition. Each edition has its own theme, and the first Friday edition—“three things to know, three things to try”—will arrive this week.

As important as all that, JR, Chris, me, and the rest of the team are also sensitive about getting Windows Intelligence right. We will ask for, listen to, and respond to your feedback so that you can help mold this newsletter into a relevant and useful resource that meets your needs. We all understand that you have certain expectations, and that there will be some reservations about this kind of change. But Windows Intelligence is already a major upgrade. And with your help, we can make it even better.

If you already subscribe to our newsletters, there’s nothing to do. You will automatically transition to Windows Intelligence starting this Friday. But those who don’t subscribe to the existing newsletters can subscribe to the new newsletter now on the Android Intelligence website via a temporary landing page. We’re also promoting Windows Intelligence here on Thurrott.com, of course. (And if you use an Android device, you should consider subscribing to Android Intelligence too. It’s a great resource.)

So there you go. I’m taking Thurrott.com into the future as a truly personal small business, and I’m partnering with JR, Chris, and the team to take our old newsletter and turn it into something even better than before. I’m excited to finally reveal these plans to you, and excited to formally enter this era.

Thanks for reading!


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