Even though the flow of venture capital has slowed to a trickle, the act of securing money still typically rates nothing more than a yawn.
The media just doesn’t care about funding news.
So why would The New York Times devote 1,064 words to a startup banking $48 million to design chips for computer servers?
The funding news was the door-opener to a bigger story.
You can never go wrong with the classic David versus Goliath, particularly if the Goliath happens to be the largest semiconductor maker in the universe.
But it gets better.
Intel’s arch nemesis ARM has invested in Smooth-Stone (get it, David’s weapon of choice) as has that favorite rich uncle in Abu Dhabi, Advanced Technology Investment Company. Hopefully, they didn’t pay Landor for that “clever” name.
And all investors along with Smooth-Stone are focused on a singular task that has become a big damn deal to computing heavyweights Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.: lowering the energy consumption of data centers.
That’s a good story and Times reporter Ashlee Vance knows how to piece together compelling narrartives framed in tech.
There’s another reason why The New York Times gave Smooth-Stone such play.
The paper enjoyed an exclusive, essentially breaking the story in print when the official news release went out the door on Monday and going live with the online version on Sunday.
While my forensic skills leave much to be desired – can’t even figure out who took my Red Vines in a household of five – it appears that The Wall Street Journal saw the NYT piece and got cracking on Sunday with a story of their own that got posted online on Sunday evening.
Journal reporter Don Clark managed to track down the Smooth-Stone CEO, but the chat was short:
Mr. Evans declined to discuss the 20-employee company’s technology in detail or when it might deliver products. “We are innovating to make products that are appropriate for the server space,” he said.
The exclusive with The New York Times essentially put a gag order on Smooth-Stone execs talking to the media until Monday morning, hence the “declined to discuss.”
Determined to find something fresh not in The Times, Clark did squeeze a vanilla quote out of ATIC’s PR guy Brian Lott (previously worked at Burson Marsteller).
The Journal story closes with the stoic line:
Smooth-Stone’s funding was reported earlier by The New York Times.