Professional Development

Technically Philly will move to new First Round Capital HQ [Full disclosure]

We want to explain why we'll be there and how we'll handle it.

The front of 4040 Locust Street earlier this month, before the front was resurfaced by First Round Capital, which will make the former bowling alley its new headquarters starting in September.

Technically Philly will be an initial trial tenant at the brand new headquarters of First Round Capital, the celebrated early stage investment fund that is moving to 4040 Locust Street in University City and will offer space to a handful of its portfolio companies, as we reported this morning.

It’s a straightforward trade for service — we get cool, relevant office space to connect with a new part of Philly tech, and First Round Capital gets a sponsorship package and someone to help them bring foot traffic, some events and a connection to a broader local community, in addition to helping to support our work here.

Still, in our continued effort here at Technically Philly to offer transparency to our readers, we wanted to explain why we’ll be there and how we’ll handle it.

Since January 2011, the Technically Philly newsroom has been inside the divinely located Temple University Center City at 1515 Market Street (props to all the great staff support we’ve had there). It afforded a great location, proximity to a slew of Temple students who often contributed and let us have some valuable distance from those we covered so we might better offer perspective, in the old tradition of newsrooms.

As we continue to grow, we wanted to try something different — we’ve talked internally for more than a year about taking up space in any of the many wonderful colocation facilities in the city. The lead reporter for our new community Technically Baltimore will be housed in a new coworking space there called Betamore, and so we decided we should try something similar here for our flagship.

When First Round Capital Managing Partner Josh Kopelman — someone we often cover — approached us about taking up residency we thought two things:

  1. This would be another opportunity for us to make good on our pledge to connect different segments of the region’s technology community. First Round Capital is among Philadelphia’s few investment firms with a national profile, particularly on the early-stage side of things, and we want to be a part of making an even stronger connection between FRC and the broader community.
  2. We really need to define the ethics of this. Early-stage investment is just one part of our community, and we take pride in covering technology far more broadly. Moreover, First Round is just one of many investment and startup hubs in Philadelphia and we aim to represent them all too. Naturally, we expect some of our most loyal and longtime community readers to have some reservations about our setting up shop with one part of our community (as opposed to no part, like we have done so far) and about our living alongside those we cover. We knew we had to address that from the start.

So we came to an agreement with First Round Capital:

  • Technically Philly will take up a small, single, independent office in First Round Capital’s new offices for a trial that will run until after Philly Tech Week 2013.
  • Technically Philly offers a sponsorship package for the length of the partnership.
  • First Round Capital offers in-kind office space.
  • Everything we learn in First Round Capital offices is permission-based. That is, we can’t do any snooping on the other startups based there and won’t use any water cooler gossip.
  • First Round Capital has absolutely no editorial oversight, of course. They’re a cool landlord and partner and just that. Not all that different than the Inquirer leasing their new space from a business or working in the same building as someone they might cover. Our ethics policy doesn’t change.
  • Technically Philly will, of course, offer disclosures in our coverage of First Round Capital.

Aside from a modest event sponsorship in 2010, First Round and Technically Philly have never had a business relationship. It is one of many institutions we cover and we can continue to report out what is relevant, like our original effort to first pin down rumors they were coming to town. (The conversation about taking up trial residence with First Round is a much more recent event.)

And let’s say this: one way we think we are different than other technology news organizations is that we’ve never focused on the gadgets. From our start in early 2009, we have been much more like a community newspaper that covers people and tries to connect as many of them as we can.

That has meant that we cover three big buckets of local technology news: (a) entrepreneurship and investment, (b) digital access and workforce development and (c) smarter government and big efficiencies. We were early on that train and most tech sites still aren’t there. Setting up shop closer to one of those three will allow us to do that one better, not force us to do the other two worse.

What happens after the eight months? We’re not sure yet. First Round and Technically Philly will both see if it makes sense. Maybe we’ll extend the partnership if this works, maybe we’ll do a similar partnership with another space or maybe we’ll decide we should have independent or news-focused space — something we have discussed.

Our community is meant to be about experimentation, so we’re doing just that.

As always, feel free to leave any comments below.

Companies: / First Round Capital /
Series: Behind the Scenes

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