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A Top CleanTechnica Competitor to Close Down … Why?

Greentech Media, which alongside CleanTechnica has been seen as one of the top cleantech sites globally for the last decade plus, is stopping publishing and going to let the site simply wind down. My first thought, as this was not published first by GTM, was that this was potentially fake news. After all, we at CleanTechnica are having the times of our lives publishing amazing content daily on the cleantech revolution. The cleantech revolution is heating up. It feels like its moment is truly here. So, the timing just seemed so … odd.

I emailed Wood Mackenzie, who bought GTM in 2016, purportedly for $40 million. They confirmed that they are keeping the podcast, the research arm, and the events, but letting the website go out to pasture.

Insight from cleantech publishing

Even many regular CleanTechnica readers might not know who I am, and that’s fine — it’s kinda by design. I’m the founder of the company, and served as its CEO for many years. I often joke that the smartest decision I’ve ever made in business was to hire someone smarter than me to run CleanTechnica. I am much more the analyst, biz dev, and logistics guy than I ever was a public personality, content creator, editor, or publisher. My main job over the years was to make sure our people got paid.

So, this move by GTM, if you ask the business analyst in me, makes perfect sense. I’ll tell you with great clarity that publishing articles every day is not exactly a path to a $40 million cash-out for the founders. The profitable sides of a business like this are much more in the market intelligence and consulting. Wood Mac is great at this, and it doesn’t limit itself to cleantech. Its capabilities and expertise listed on its website are, in order: Upstream oil & gas, Gas & LNG, Chemicals, Power & Renewables, Corporate analysis, Metals & mining. Keeping the data analytics capabilities and the more profitable parts of the media company make perfect business case sense.

(As an aside, if you want to help make sure CleanTechnica has the legs to keep publishing great stuff day after day, maybe consider investing. We’d love CleanTechnica to become a community-owned site, resilient to disruptions, and 1000% committed to the mission.)

Funny history in cleantech publishing

When CleanTechnica was still just a pup, we had a competitor called CleanTechies. Someone from that site reached out as both sites were still pretty early stage to inquire whether I was interested in writing for them. Apparently, they didn’t know my role at CleanTechnica, and assumed I was just a freelance writer. It was a funny moment, and then I watched CleanTechies over the years go boom and then bust, like many other sites. As the capital they raised ran out, they slowly but surely had to cut back and then stop production. That’s a very different reason than GTM, of course, but at some point, the owners of CleanTechies reached out to us and asked if we wanted to buy the site, its socials, newsletter subscribers, and the like. Knowing how hard it was to run one site, my offer to them was pretty minimal, but to my surprise, they went for it, and voila, now we own and operate CleanTechies as a sort of LinkedIn of cleantech professionals. (As another aside – if you work in cleantech, you can upload your bio on CleanTechies, and when we quote you in an article on CleanTechnica through our brand new Trusted Partners program, we link to your bio to show people why we’re quoting you, as I do later in this article with two folks). Trying to produce regular content every day and build readership back up on the site was zero percent appealing, but for the price we paid, and the minimal amount of work, setting up CleanTechies like that was a way to keep doing something good for cleantech while not creating a huge pile of financially unrewarding work for ourselves.

So, with that background, I was surprised that Wood Mac hadn’t reached out to try to sell the site to us, but after inquiring with them about the reasons they were mothballing the site, I think I now understand why. On one hand, seeing your biggest competitor shift away could be seen as a tremendous boon to most businesses. But we at CleanTechnica don’t think that way — there’s a reason we didn’t sell CleanTechnica in 2017 when we received an offer I thought was very overvalued. We simply believe in cleantech and want to push it forward, and the best way we know how to do that is to keep it clean, and keep pushing it. So, it actually saddens me to see any cleantech media site shut down. [Editor’s note: Ditto on all of this. And, frankly, Greentech Media was one of the sites I liked and respected the most. It is truly sad to see it being shuttered. But I’ll write more from my perspective later. —Zach]

“The idea of losing the breadth and depth of cleantech coverage brought forward by the GTM editorial team is like losing an old, trusted friend,” said Christine Bennett of Cleantech Communication. “Now more than ever we need to be showcasing the success of the cleantech industry through fact-based reporting and in a myriad of ways — including the written word, videos, podcasts, etc. — to match the diverse ways in which people like to absorb news. It’s not clear how this move by Wood Mac will play out, but be sure the entire industry is feeling affected by this news.”

Mike Casey of Tigercomm, a cleantech PR firm, said, “The saving grace is we have other solid news outlets that can fill GTM’s shoes. But I don’t understand why they’re throwing away years of solid journalism by mothballing the site. I get that Wood-Mac only ever valued GTM’s analysis. But shutting down GTM’s news operation seems like leaving the party just when the music’s getting good. I’m sure Wood-Mac has its business reasons, but this move is a head scratch for the rest of us.”

How about you, readers? How are you feeling about it?

 
 
 
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Written By

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

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