A decade ago, we at Technical.ly set our news organization’s first vision statement as “Better cities through technology.” Back then, technology was a very suburban phenomenon. Silicon Valley was still more Sand Hill Road than San Francisco. The computer revolution was raised in suburban business parks, not urban coffee shops.
Technical.ly took an unusually city-first approach — one that argued greater urban density of tech business would not only benefit existing innovators by increasing their intellectual collisions, but also make tech careers more accessible to more people. Many of the first Baltimore tech boosters I met were city champions — people like Deb Tillett, McKeever Conwell, Mike Subelsky, Shervonne Cherry, Jess Gartner, Gabe Pendelton, Jane Shaab, Yair Flicker, Christine Johnson and Jason Hardebeck. Our first reporter, Andrew Zaleski, was among the first members of Betamore, which Mike Brenner, Sean Lane and Greg Cangialosi founded as an early coworking complement to Federal Hill’s live-work-play vibe.
So although Brenner drove me around in his car for my first informal Baltimore tech tour, I spent a lot of my time in 2011 and 2012 crisscrossing the city by bus — including both those familiar Maryland Transit Administration chariots and the much-maligned but well-air-conditioned Charm City Circulator. It was tricky to visit TechBreakfast, a beloved startup presentation event that Ron Schmelzer started and ran from 2011 to 2018 — not just in Baltimore, but across and beyond Maryland. Other big tech community events in the early 2010s were suburban, but there was a very real effort to bring the orbit into Baltimore city.
Technical.ly’s goal was simple: narrate, challenge and help connect the growing efforts to modernize Baltimore’s economy — and do it with a journalistic approach. This month, we’re celebrating 10 years of publishing daily on Baltimore’s economic change. We’ll celebrate with other looks at our own progress over the years before partying at October’s Baltimore Innovation Week, which we helped launch and is now a true community effort that Tillet’s influential ETC Baltimore leads.
Throughout this time, we’ve approached our journalism with a community-first lens. Consider a brief review of the track record:
- That first year we helped launch Baltimore Innovation Week, which this fall will celebrate its own 10th anniversary.
- We tracked fledgling startups, especially ones in key industries. For instance, there was a tiny cybersecurity company called Riskive; A decade later, the company now known as ZeroFox went public.
- In 2013, upon our prodding, we helped facilitate Baltimore City Council’s first-ever tech-focused economic committee hearing.
- Technical.ly broke news and exhaustively chronicled the controversial rollout of ride-sharing in Baltimore.
- We covered how elected officials viewed the digital economy, entrepreneurship and tech jobs in Baltimore and Maryland more broadly. In 2013, a young Baltimore city councilman told Technical.ly that his hometown was “fighting positive change.” Now, Brandon Scott is its mayor.
- In 2016, the foundation was laid, and we routinely chronicled how city leaders and tech boosters were working together.
- Following a series of FOIA requests, we outlined the City of Baltimore’s $10 million cybersecurity investments following a high-profile ransomware attack.
- We broke news of the departure of Baltimore’s Broadband and Digital Equity Deputy Director Jason Hardebeck, as well as its fallout.
It has been a true honor for Technical.ly to not just report on, but be a part of, Baltimore’s economic evolution. In many ways, the transition is far from complete. It’s also clear that progress has been made by extraordinary efforts. Here’s to more.