No sooner had Marissa Mayer pledged her allegiance to content (and advertising!) at CES than she put David Pogue to work. On stage this afternoon, the new head of Yahoo Tech "magazine" just wrapped up an interview with Nick D'Aloisio, the insufferable entrepreneur that Mayer made a multimillionaire before his 18th birthday.
Did I say "interview"? I meant ecstatic pageant to the glory of Yahoo, hallowed be its brand name.
D'Aloisio told Pogue all about how he transformed Summly, a service that chops up and squeezes together news stories, into an app for Yahoo called News Digest. Apparently, Reader's Digest 2.0 requires a very complex "extraction method." If this sounds familiar, that's because Yahoo already discussed News Digest during the promotional part of CES.
Pogue allocated a good portion of the conversation to marveling at how young D'Aloisio got to be such a genius. He may genuinely like the kid, but Pogue didn't keep it subjective. No, the tech columnist insisted that "everyone" agrees D'Aloisio is "super well-adjusted" and "media friendly." Dozens of unhinged emails to editors tell a different story, but let's get to the money quote:
Pogue: "YOU'RE THE YOUNGEST PERSON IN HISTORY TO GET VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDING!"
D'Aloisio: "—it's unverified"
Pogue: "AND you've had to learn false modesty!!!!!"
Tell a journalist a fact is unverified and her first instinct is to brush right past it. If you have to, distract the audience by complimenting the source. That's just J-school 101, folks. Now don't forget, when Yahoo bought Summly, Marissa was hoping to make the pathetic purple exclamation mark look like a hot acquisition destination—one capable of recruiting young talent. So Pogue's compliments to D'Aloisio easily double as a recruitment ad. There's so much synergy it hurts.
Towards the end of the interview, Pogue moves on to his own #blessed experience with Yahoo. It's not like he was driven out of the New York Times. No, Pogue thoroughly toured headquarters for signs of life before accepting the gig:
They walk around that campus with these burning eyes and the fire in the belly. They act like they're at a startup . . . EVERYBODY is taking risks and putting out new apps.
For the Yahoo-branded cherry on top, Pogue closed out the interview by encouraging the audience to download News Digest, laughing off his conflict of interest. "Like I'm independent right? I work for Yahoo. But you should try it, it's free."
Update: In response to a question from Valleywag, Bahareh Ramin, a senior communications manager at Yahoo confirmed that D'Aloisio was a replacement for Twitter and Jelly founder Biz Stone.
Hi Nitasha – yes, Biz was supposed to do the Q&A but couldn't make it. Nick filled the slot in his place.
That explains Yahoo's back-to-back promotional performance. The unbridled exuberance, however, sounded like classic Pogue.
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