Andy Plesser of Beet.tv has a rare interview with Gabe Rivera, the creator of everyone's favorite automated tech news "digger" TechMeme. The interview reveals the secret sauce of the news aggregator and its progenitor: an uncanny facsimile of tech and pop icon Craig Newmark's winningest attributes! Craig, the founder of the eponymous Craigslist, and Gabe, the lone man behind TechMeme, are both self-deprecating and aphoristic nebbishes motivated by the altruism their audiences enjoy.
In introducing TechMeme, Gabe humbly states: "It's just a news site..." When detailing the "magic" of automating the selection of the best headlines for display, an often imitated but never duplicated endeavor, he concludes: "It's just that kind of thing." Compare these statements to the Cole Valley classified pioneer's description of Craigslist: "It's just a simple platform where people help each other out."
Gabe exudes an unexplainable and genuine nerdy charm throughout the interview that isn't easily achieved by the most socially adept. It appears as if he is capable of tapping directly into the welllspring of Craig Newmark's anti-charisma.
While others would pursue funding, new hires, and promotion, Rivera seems content with the altruism he can share with the web: "the nicest thing is people find it useful." Although he has expanded his formula to a few other sites, has sought tax filing help, and may hire additional staff soon, "it's all [him]."
Although it would be difficult to achieve the widespread, mainstream notoriety of Newmark without vastly expanding the success of TechMeme to his other news aggregators — memeorandom (politics), WeSmirch (rumors), and ballbug (major league baseball) — and other more general web properties (unlikely), Gabe Rivera appears to be walking the path, previously believed to be reserved for only Craig Newmark, to success. That success may remain in the insular world of technology rather than the broader celebrity of Craigslist's founder, limiting Gabe Rivera to a niche Craig Newmark 2.0, but he appears genuinely capable of tapping into a formula and personality thought to be unique and irreproducable.