Why TechCrunch’s former editor ditched tech for hyperlocal news

Eric Eldon, who ran TechCrunch with Alexia Tsotsis until resigning last January, has found his next venture. He’s joining Andrew Dudley, the creator of Haighteration, a blog about some of San Francisco neighborhoods. Eldon has been named co-founder after helping the blog rebrand as “Hoodline,” and he’ll be implementing ideas to build it into a sustainable business.

Anyone in tech might be a little baffled at Eldon’s choice. He willingly left one of the biggest and most impactful outlets in the industry to…write about neighborhood PTA meetings?

Eldon laughed when I asked him this. “I’m used to going and doing things people will say are weird,” Eldon told me. “Sometimes it’s worked and sometimes it hasn’t.” His history reflects that, with Eldon having jumped between writing for media organizations and founding startups.

Many entrepreneurs who have launched and scaled companies can probably understand Eldon’s rationale for leaving TechCrunch. He’s a builder — he likes turning untenable organizations into viable businesses. Once a company has reached the maintenance period, it’s not quite as much fun.

“Where tech media is at right now — it’s mature,” Eldon told me. “I was frankly burned out on covering tech news and was ready to try something else.”

Part of the joy of journalism is immersing yourself in new topics and learning about realms you otherwise wouldn’t. After seven years in tech, Eldon felt like he had seen it all.

“[In 2005] there was a more innocent enthusiasm and more high-minded aspirations,” Eldon said, when asked how the tech industry has changed.

Hyperlocal news, on the other hand, is a fresh realm that nobody has managed to solve. If someone can figure out how to connect local neighborhoods with an economically sustainable business model, they’ll have unlocked a key communication channel. Some consider it a doomed mission though, after high profile failures like AOL’s Patch network. Eldon himself admits that before following Haighteration, he didn’t believe hyperlocal news companies could work.

But Andrew Dudley changed his mind. Eldon wouldn’t elaborate on the product roadmap, but he said they are planning to build tools to strengthen neighborhood reporting.

“Local is really interesting because once you build a community, it gives you access to an audience that tech is still trying to reach,” Eldon said. “This seemed like a cool way to do experimental work.”