At PAN, we work hard to build relationships with reporters and journalists. One journalist I’ve been working with closely is Tom Taulli, a contributor at Forbes covering tech and finance. He’s been in the tech scene for about 25 years and has experienced first-hand the rapid market changes since the dawn of the internet, and the shift of power from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
He’s also worked as an advisor to many startups, and has some wisdom to share with our readers.
See our Q&A below:
Tell us a little about yourself.
My background is as a coder/entrepreneur – before the Internet exploded on the scene. The first company I started was for e-learning (using CD ROMs!). But, the big one was hypermart.net, which was sold to InfoSpace in 1998. Since then, I’ve invested in various companies and served as an advisor to startups. Along the way, I have been a writer. The first book I wrote was on IPOs, published in 1999. As for Forbes.com, I’ve been an outside contributor since 1997 or so.
What types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
I’m always interested in new technologies, whether enterprise or consumer. Right now, I’m really immersed in AI. Then again, I’m currently writing a book on the topic.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
I want to know the key drivers of a market and where things are headed. I also like getting the entrepreneurial angle. What are the lessons / takeaways? Strategies to succeed? What to avoid? As much as possible, I like to see actionable advice.
What are you seeing taking hold in vertical businesses (e.g. fintech, insurance, retail tech, etc.) as they start to grow and scale today?
In terms of verticals, I’m bullish on fintech and e-health. Both markets are huge and will see lots of disruption in the coming years. But there are lots of players. So expect a shakeout too.
How do you feel about the trust levels in media, as most Americans claim that they have lost trust?
This may be more for political media. Tech media I think is different. People are interested in getting good content on new trends/innovations, regardless of their world view. From my vantage point, I haven’t seen any evidence of lack of trust.
With data privacy being a critical issue, how should rapidly growing startups prepare and protect users?
I think privacy of customer data should be a part of the culture. Data is extremely valuable but it should be treated with care. This is especially the case as more personal areas of our lives go online, like our medical records.
An interview with Albert Camus, the existentialist novelist (granted, this would be tough since he died in 1960 in a car accident and I don’t speak French), in Paris. I consider him one of the best writers ever.
What advice do you have for PR people who want to pitch you?
If you start your pitch with something like “I know you don’t write about this but…” things will probably not turn out well. While I cover many topics, it’s a good idea to pitch on areas I’ve covered before. Next, write only a paragraph or two for the pitch. Focus on why this is something important to write about it. It’s really that simple.