We would never imply that Adrian Holovaty, the supremely talented journalist-programmer who's now the CEO of local-news startup EveryBlock, is being cagey or dishonest about his talks with Google, which continued as recently as last weekend. Our theory: He's just shy and bashful, and doesn't like talking about what a hot commodity he is! Sources close to Google confirm that they are very interested in bringing Holovaty, the creator of a set of programming tools called Django, into the Googleplex. There are not one but two hitches, though.First, there are the conditions of his grant from the Knight Foundation, which is currently funding EveryBlock. The Knight Foundation used to have strong ties with the now-defunct Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; some of those ties now reach beyond the corporate grave, a tipster explains:
Part of the deal with the Knight grant was that Adrian will turn over the sites to the local papers after the year (or however long the money lasts) is over. That's why the sites include second-tier cities like Philly and Charlotte, former Knight Ridder papers. Of course, that may just be true in those cities, so Google could still buy New York, etc.
To be clear, this is just newsroom scuttlebutt, but it's a compelling theory. The other hitch? Google's reputation for killing startups by neglect. A tipster tells us Holovaty is making a series of "asks" to make sure that doesn't happen to EveryBlock — and that he's reluctant to admit to the talks, lest his unusual demands be misinterpreted. In that light, the secrecy makes sense. It's certainly how an entrepreneur would act. But perhaps not how a journalist would.