You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello

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This is the last day of the All Things Digital site, which began life in April of 2007 as a year-round extension of the D conference we launched in 2003. Since then, we have published nearly 40,000 posts and attracted millions of loyal readers.

Starting January 2, we’ll have an all-new site and suite of conferences, with a different name and Web address, run as an independent company with great investors and partners. It’s likely that you’ll hear a lot about it.

But before we go — this will be our last post here, by the way — we want to say we are intensely proud of what we did on this tech and media news and analysis site. And as we reach the end, we’d ask you to indulge us in a moment of sentimental reflection.

When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

Over the years, we’ve had numerous scoops, influential reviews and thoughtful analysis pieces. We have been the first to tell you what was going on inside the big tech companies, from Google to Microsoft to Amazon; what stealthy startups were doing and who was giving them money; and even exactly when Apple was introducing its next iDevice.

We have also explained in plain English what the mobile carriers and the e-retailers, the TV networks and cable companies were really doing — even if they said otherwise.

And we’ve tested hundreds of new products and services to tell you whether they were any good, from game-changers like the iPhone a couple of months after our site began, to a Bluetooth basketball last month.

We’ve also done what we humbly regard as some of the funniest liveblogs in the industry, and have brought you all the video and commentary for our own D conferences, all 11 of them. From the historic joint interview of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates a month after our site’s launch, through the carousel of CEOs at Yahoo, and many other memorable interviews, we think we have helped deliver some great moments in tech over the last decade.

As for that ethics thing, we’ve innovated there, as well. We introduced a transparent drop-down warning to all new users, cautioning them about tracking cookies. We placed a link to an individual ethics statement next to every writer’s byline. And we banned personal attacks and self-promotion from our comments. We also held stories until we were sure they had multiple solid sources, and killed them when they didn’t.

But what has always made us most proud over the years has been our stellar staff, which — although one of the smallest among tech sites — has worked brilliantly together, and punched far above its weight.

But now it is time to bid farewell to All Things Digital in all its incarnations. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this site as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it.

As we noted, we are deeply grateful to our small but mighty team of writers, editors, developers, conference producers and business folks. And we thank Dow Jones for giving us the chance to run a small, entrepreneurial business inside a very big media company.

Most of all, we are in your debt for being our readers, and we hope you will follow us to the new site and conferences.

Because — in taking a page from the tech industry we cover — it’s once again time to refresh, reimagine, remake and reinvent. (You’ll see what that means soon enough.)

Or, as Kara wrote in her very first post for the website on April 18, 2007: “But enough looking back: On to the next thing.”

– Walt & Kara

Some of Our Fave D Conference Videos Before AllThingsD Signs Off in 3 … 2 … 1 …

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Before we end our reign of terror, oops, tech at AllThingsD, I wanted to post a few of my favorite videos from D: All Things Digital conferences that we have done since 2003.

While we are proud of all we have created on the news site, I think it is fair to say that the conferences have also been pretty dang fine and moreso taken as a whole. While others may try to trot out the phrase going forward, I think it’s fair to say we have owned “all things digital” for the last 11 years.

We’ve had a panoply of bigs in tech and media up there over those many conferences, all sitting in our signature red Steelcase chairs, with some memorable moments, including:

More than a half-dozen appearances by the late, great Steve Jobs of Apple, including an joint interview with Microsoft’s Bill Gates; the famous hoodie incident with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who managed to ably recover from the very sticky situation; the testy interview with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; the hysterical one with former Sony head Howard Stringer; the sassy one from former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz; the future-is-here one with former DARPA head Regina Dugan; the silent-off with former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason; the geek-out with Hollywood director James Cameron; the epic Elon Musk chat from last year, he of SpaceX and Tesla.

And many, many more, now numbering in the hundreds, most of which you can find here.

We did not publish the videos for the first five conferences, as we did not have a site to post them too, but here are my top seven from each year we did, all joint appearances with Walt Mossberg, as well as one each from the smaller Dive and other conferences, featuring Peter Kafka, Liz Gannes and Ina Fried.

D5 (2007)

Hands down, the historic — and decidedly poignant — joint interview of Gates and Jobs:

D6 (2008)

New Corp’s Rupert Murdoch in a surprisingly — to the crowd, at least — avuncular mode (this is part one of six — here are the rest):

D7 (2009)

Twitter’s Biz Stone and Evan Williams in simpler days:

D8 (2010)

Zuckerberg and the hoodie that saved the day:

D9 (2011)

Browser man and VC Marc Andreessen on software eating the world:

D10 (2012)

Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel is not shy:

D11 (2013)

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is Tony Stark:

Dive Into Media (2012)

Rust never sleeps for Neil Young:

Dive Into Media (2013)

Vice’s Shane Smith and CollegeHumor’s Ricky Van Veen are also not shy:

Dive Into Mobile (2010)

Google’s Susan Wojcicki is the most powerful Internet exec you don’t know as well as you should:

Dive Into Mobile (2013)

Google’s Eric Schmidt will take your questions now:

AsiaD (2011)

Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square is very inventive:

D@CES (2010)

Netflix’s Reed Hastings knows video:

D@CES (2011)

Twitter’s Dick Costolo is the fashion police of Las Vegas:

How Can You Miss Us if We Won’t Go Away? Paczkowski and Swisher Highlights From AllThingsD.

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A day late, but here’s the last installment of highlight posts from AllThingsD staffers, as we reach twilight on Dec. 31 and this site is no more.

As one of my fave depressing funeral poems goes:

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.”

Actually, I don’t sleep, since I am a blogger and, as you all must realize by now, a sparkly vampire, too.

Thus, like the undead, we’ll be reanimated in another form and with a new name right quick. And, not to worry, the archives of what we have written since mid-2007 will also forever remain as definitive proof that we existed, thanks to the hard workers at the NSA in its ongoing quest to suck every digital scrap it can find!

But before The Wall Street Journal redirects this site’s URL to its own tech coverage, here are some stories by John Paczkowski, the very first editorial hire Walt Mossberg and I made here, as well as some choice bits by me over the years (Yahoo, Yahoo and, well, mebbe some Yahoo, too!).

JOHN PACZKOWSKI

1. Who Will Buy Palm? If Not HTC, How About HP?

Key lines: “With handheld sales that fell by more than half year-over-year in its first quarter, HP is surely looking for a way to revive them and capture a larger portion of the important mobile market. Acquiring Palm could be a good way to do it.”

2. Google and the Evolution of Search I: Human Evaluators

Key lines: “Google had finally acknowledged that its search results were no longer solely and automatically determined by the company’s vaunted algorithms. Now they simply “relied heavily” on them. Why the sudden change?”

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3. RIM CEO Welcomes Critics to Happy-Fun Rainbow Land

Key lines: “Despite a slew of evidence to the contrary — plunging market share, rapidly deteriorating fundamentals, mass layoffs and a stock that’s falling like a knife, Research In Motion’s got a bright future ahead of it. This according to CEO Thorsten Heins, who says RIM is headed for a rebound, not certain doom. In fact, he crowed in an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail, ‘We expect to empower people as never before.’”

4. New Motion Control Patent Could Shake Up Smartphone Industry

Key lines: “Here’s a potentially noteworthy development in the patent litigation-riddled mobile device market. Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a very broad patent on motion-based smartphone control, one that could have significant implications for the industry.”

5. Apple Maps App Takes Reality Distortion to a Whole New Level

“Apple may some day deliver a mobile mapping application that bests Google’s, but the new Maps app in iOS 6 — the latest iteration of its mobile operating system — isn’t it. Not yet, anyway.”

KARA SWISHER

1. Dear Jeff Bezos, Here’s What I Saw as an Analog Nobody in the Mailroom of the Washington Post

“One could say hindsight is 20-20, of course, but what made me sad about the sale — and I was very sad when I heard of it — was that these laudable and smart people could not seem to figure it out, and had to turn to a magical Internet wizard to do so. In the coverage, that sentiment was echoed again and again — that you would somehow conjure up a series of fantastic new news products that would capture the imagination of all and return the paper to its former glory.”

2. Liveblogging Yahoo’s 3Q Earnings: Busy, Busy, Busy (So Go Away, Tim Armstrong!)

Key lines: “[CEO Carol] Bartz then asked the question: ‘What have we done to re-engineer Yahoo?’ She reeled off a list she has repeated many times before, the point of which was to let us all know she has been mighty busy cleaning up the big mess she had to deal with on arrival. So lay off, all you naysayers! It’s kind of like what President Barack Obama is saying these days, as he looks forward to huge political losses in the upcoming election. It’s apparently a disciplined approach. “First you walk, then you run.’ Then, she added, you FLY! Don’t look down, Carol!”

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3. What Not to Do in Hong Kong (Trust Me on This One)

Key line: “How shall I put this as delicately as I am known for: So I went to AsiaD in Hong Kong and all I got was this lousy transient ischemic attack.”

4. In 2009 Interview, Yahoo CEO Does Not Deny He Has a CS Degree, and Calls Himself an “Engineer” (Audio)

Key lines: “‘Your bachelor’s degree is in accounting and computer science. Now, from both of those, I mean that’s, that’s pretty obvious that’s PayPal,’ said [Moira] Gunn. ‘What are the most important things you learned?’ ‘Yeah,’ begins [Yahoo CEO Scott] Thompson, failing to correct her at all on the fact that he does not actually have a computer science degree — only one in accounting.”

5. CrunchFund? Unethical Ventures? Pig Pile Partners? No Matter What You Call It, It’s Business as Usual in Silicon Valley.

Key lines: “First, my initial reaction when I first heard about the deal: Ugh. Sigh. Hopelessly corrupt. Now 100 percent more icky! A giant, greedy, Silicon Valley pig pile. I was upset. By early evening, after my kids told me to chillax, my dark mood had changed to accept that the transaction — however profoundly distasteful to me — was part and parcel of the insidious log-rolling, back-scratching ecosystem that has happened in every other center of power in the universe since the beginning of time. And so it goes in Silicon Valley.”

The Longish Goodbye: Highlights From AllThingsD Staffers Johnson, Del Rey and Cha

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Here’s the third installment of posts that the staff has highlighted, as All Things Digital gets ready to close down as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

To be clear, the archives of what we have written since April of 2007 — close to 38,000 posts — will remain in the digital ether for your perusal, and the whole staff of AllThingsD is headed for a new venture. On Jan. 1, The Wall Street Journal will redirect the main page of this site to its own tech coverage.

Taking the bow today will be gaming reporter Eric Johnson, e-commerce ninja Jason Del Rey, and tech reviewer Bonnie Cha.

ERIC JOHNSON

1. Valve’s Steam Machines Won’t Be “Console Killers,” but Here’s How They Could Shake Up Gaming Anyway

Key lines: “Assuming that they work as promised, Steam Machines will bring the PC-esque option to routinely upgrade to better hardware to the living room, while tapping into Steam’s expansive library of both indie and mainstream games. If anything, Steam Machines might disrupt the PC market — not the console one.”

2. Notes From a n00b at E3: A Sensory Overload of Fun and Games (But Mostly Just Games)

Key lines: “This line at E3 is killing my feet. The guy in front of me says he has not moved in five minutes. ‘Do you think this is an actual line, or a fake one?’ he wearily asks.”

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3. If Wearables Are Going to Grow Up, Games Might Point the Way

Key lines: “In tech circles, the buzz around wearable computing, already a multi-billion dollar market, has never been louder. No one wants to miss the boat if wearable apps are going to be as disruptive as apps for smartphones and tablets, an anxiety reflected well at GDC Next in Los Angeles.”

4. Why Some Videogame Characters Get Toys, and Others Don’t

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, games aren’t entirely a hits-driven business. Innumerable games, particularly on mobile and online, do just fine for themselves by attracting and catering to small, passionate audiences. But if you want to see that favorite game character cross over into the real world, maybe in the form of a toy or stuffed animal? Yeah, you’re gonna need a bigger hit.”

5. Don’t Regulate Me, Bro! Social Casino Companies Band Together to “Inform” Lawmakers.

“Free-to-play games are unregulated, and some of the companies that make them would like to keep it that way. For most game developers, governmental regulation is a non-issue. But the studios behind social casino games claim they’re under pressure from foreign policymakers and are going on the offensive.”

JASON DEL REY

1. Emotionless E-Commerce and the Death of the Joy of Gift-Giving

Key lines: “A visit to H&M’s website: Click, click, click. Done. Then, a visit to Amazon.com: Click, click, click. Done. Hardly a thought involved. No stress. Christmas in a neat brown box for the most important woman in my life, delivered to my doorstep in just two days.”

2. Amazon Expanding Its Own Private Label Offering to Supermarket Goods

Key lines: “Amazon already sells its own brand of batteries, keyboards and bedding. And now it looks as though the Seattle-based online retailer is in the process of creating its own line of the kind of products that you’d normally find on supermarket shelves, according to several job listings the company has posted over the last few months.”

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3. The Real Reason for Fab’s Layoffs: A Big, Bad Bet on Flash Sales

Key lines: “What [Fab CEO Jason] Goldberg didn’t admit in the public explanation is that the company has had to drastically cut its headcount because it made a giant bet on being able to build a big, sustainable business over the long term around flash sales — the selling of a limited amount of product inventory that’s available only for short periods of time, designed to spur impulse buying.”

4. Does LivingSocial Have an Identity Crisis?

Key lines: “That track record puts LivingSocial’s current management team in a tough spot. If it launches more unique products, it risks more failures and the company will only get so many swings and misses.
But if it continues to follow the playbook of others, the lack of differentiation may eventually catch up to it.”

5. Bitcoin’s Biggest Bet: Andreessen Horowitz Leads $25 Million Investment in Coinbase

Key line: “If you’re a bitcoin doubter, you might want to turn away. The doors to venture funding in bitcoin startups are about to swing wide open.”

BONNIE CHA

1. Twitter Takes On Music Discovery, but Comes Up Short

Key lines: “I’ve been testing Twitter Music on my iPhone 5 for the past week, and it’s a beautifully designed app. It helped me keep abreast of what’s popular, and turned me on to a couple of new artists. The Web version also worked well, and it was nice to be able to navigate through the various sections on a bigger screen. That said, Twitter Music as a whole has limited capabilities.”

2. Tomorrowland Today: Disney MagicBand Unlocks New Guest Experience for Park Goers

Key line: “Walt Disney once said, ‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ So, I’d imagine he’d be pleased to see that the company he founded is heeding his words and heading down a new path.”

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3. Rescuing Water-Damaged Devices: Is There a Better Fix Than Rice?

Key line: “Let’s play a quick game of ‘Jeopardy,’ shall we? Here’s the clue: An iPhone 5, a water bottle and an energetic 2-year-old. If you answered, ‘What is a recipe for disaster?’ you win!”

4. Apps That Curb the Temptation to Text and Drive

Key lines: “Would you ever drive the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour blindfolded? Some daredevils might consider it, but what if the field was filled with obstacles like people and cars? I’m guessing most people’s answer would be a resounding “no,” but that’s pretty much what you’re doing every time you text and drive.”

5. Good News, Germaphobes: Corning Working on Bacteria-Killing Smartphone Screens

Key lines: “Here’s something to think about: Your cellphone — the one that you hold up to your face during phone calls or fervently tap on to text friends — probably contains more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to wipe down your screen.”

Buh-Bye From AllThingsD! More Staff Highlights: Fried, Goode and “Everyone Likes Mike” Isaac.

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Like that proverbial pumpkin, at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, All Things Digital goes poof.

As I noted earlier, while the archives of what we have written since April of 2007 — close to 38,000 posts — will remain in the digital ether for your perusal, and the whole staff of AllThingsD is headed for new pastures, that’s not yet!

Before we part, I asked the staff to send me their favorite posts. Yesterday, I put up those of Peter Kafka, Arik Hesseldahl and Liz Gannes, and now it’s time for three more (and more after that!).

Without further ado:

INA FRIED

1. Interview: Apple CEO Steve Jobs on How the iPhone Does and Doesn’t Use Location Information

Key line: “‘As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education,” Jobs said. ‘We haven’t — as an industry — done a very good job educating people, I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such, (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week.’”

2. The Three Irreplaceable Qualities of Steve Jobs

Key line: “Computers came in one color before the iMac. There were digital music players before the iPod, but none that the masses wanted. One need only look at the face of the smartphone industry before the iPhone and after to see his vision and impact there.”

3. The Facebook Phone: Forking Android Offers Both Promise and Pitfalls

Key line: “Could Google’s Android be Facebook’s new best friend? It just might be, although it’s unlikely the feeling is mutual.”

4. The Definitive Insider’s Guide to Apple vs. Samsung

Key lines: “There have been plenty of dramatic moments in the case of Apple versus Samsung, which some have dubbed the patent trial of the century. But let’s be clear. There has also been a lot of downtime.”

5. How the Angry Birds Almost Died Before the First Level

“Mikael Hed almost pulled the plug on Rovio while the Angry Birds were still in development. After several years in business, his mobile game company had yet to produce a hit. Rovio’s chief backer, Hed’s father, Kaj, was struggling to figure out how to keep the company going.”

LAUREN GOODE

1. If You Want to Stay out of Jail, Don’t Instagram Your Ballot

Key line: “As tough as it is to peel yourself away from your smartphone for 10 minutes and not blast your ballot pics to your social streams, in some states, it’s wise to use caution when it comes to your vote.”

2. Inside the CES Lost & Found

Key lines: “When I asked what the strangest item is she’s seen so far at CES, she shrugged. ‘Nothing too off-the-wall. Some tripod case today. But other times, we get everything. We’ve gotten hearing aids, we’ve gotten teeth. Entire sets of teeth. Sometimes we even see drugs.’”

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3. Comparing Wearables: Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone Up and More

Key lines: “Wearable ‘activity trackers’ — not long ago a niche product — are getting more popular, and people are wondering how they work and whether they’re worth it. I decided to wear a bunch of trackers simultaneously for a period of 10 days to really get a sense of their features and, more importantly, their accuracy.”

4. Inside the LG G2 Smartphone Event, Which Is Very Much Like Other Smartphone Events

Key lines: “Will this new LG smartphone be a game-changer? I ask because everybody asks if the next smartphone is a game-changer. Later on, we might all make charts comparing the game-changing specs.”

5. iPhone 5c: Candy Colors With a Nice Price

Key lines: “While the 5c looks and feels very familiar, it’s still a good phone and an improvement over the 5. But its improvements are evolutionary, not revolutionary.”

MIKE ISAAC

1. The Future of Twitter’s Platform Is All in the Cards

Key lines: “Therein lies Twitter’s goal: A rich, consistent Twitter experience for every user. When the hammer drops and Twitter changes its guidelines, those apps that can’t deliver this consistency will no longer be able to integrate with Twitter.”

2. Facebook Wants to Be a Newspaper. Facebook Users Have Their Own Ideas.

Key line: “The gap between these two Facebooks — the one its managers want to see, and the one its users like using today — is starting to become visible.”

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3. In the Race to Win Social Video, Is One App Gaming the System Too Much?

Key lines: “There’s a popular maxim in Silicon Valley: Find your user base and the revenues will come later. For a while, it seemed to be the easiest way for a founder to explain his or her way out of a proper business model. But with Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of the entirely revenue-free Instagram, that adage now carries more weight than ever.”

4. Back on the Global Stage, Mark Zuckerberg Keeps His Cool

Key lines: “The heat was on, but Mark Zuckerberg refused to sweat. The 28-year-old took the stage at the TechCrunch: Disrupt technology conference, after nearly a year of radio silence from the CEO and company, a botched IPO, a plummeting share price and growing investor ire. All of the tech world and Wall Street wanted to know how Zuckerberg would explain the folly of the past year.”

5. Can Twitter Fix Its Product Problem?

Key lines: “Many employees see the event — the Friday that ends Hack Week — as Twitter at its best, a testament to the company’s capacity for innovation. But some view these days as among the most depressing of the year: A parade of Twitter features that will never see the light of day.”

Viral Video: Country Music 2013 — Trucks, Girls in Trucks, Drinking in Trucks With Girls

Luke-Bryan

Entertainment Weekly’s Grady Smith made a fantastic video compilation, garnering close to two million views on Google’s YouTube by delivering a very good point about the state of country music in 2013:

As he noted:

“I was inspired to make this supercut after posting my 10 Best Country Albums of 2013 list for EW. A few commenters told me that my choices weren’t mainstream enough, and I thought, ‘Well, yeah, because so much of what’s on the radio these days sounds exactly the same!’ So I decided to make a video to prove my point. I hope country fans will stop settling for this derivative junk. I love a dumb party song every once in a while (including some of these!), but when they’re the only flavor available, they get old very, very fast. Here’s to better music in 2014.”

As a huge country music fan, Grady’s got that right: