Mat Honan, the high-profile Wired writer and editor, has been hired by BuzzFeed to become its new Silicon Valley bureau chief.
The online news site, which has been on a tear of late with a giant funding and a high-profile scoop about the naughty execs of Uber, is planning to build out a significant presence in the tech center. It will be BuzzFeed’s eighth bureau.
BuzzFeed said that the San Francisco bureau will grow to “approximately 20 editorial staffers” in 2015, with eight to 10 tech and business reporters.
“Tech is no longer a niche beat — it’s at the heart of the biggest cultural and economic transformations in the world, and we are eager to tell that story in a compelling, enterprising, independent, and creative way,” said Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief in a statement. “Mat is a rare journalist who has always understood that tech coverage can’t be put in a box, and we are thrilled he’ll be bringing his vision and sheer energy to BuzzFeed News.”
Smith — who got a lot of attention of late for breaking the story about top Uber exec Emil Michael’s bizarre idea of targeting the personal lives of tech reporters critical to the transportation company — has worn out his expense account recently, talking to a wide range of candidates at current tech sites about the San Francisco bureau chief job and also for the many reporting slots. (He’s even been trying to fish in the Re/code pond, but we welcome the poaching attempt!)
Other outlets are also expanding in the tech space, such as Fusion. It has made a number of high-profile — and reportedly pricey — hires of late to expand the tech news part of its Web and TV joint venture between ABC and Univision.
In addition to the Honan hire, BuzzFeed said it plans to hire an investigative reporter here in SF, as well as expand its gadget coverage. And current tech editor Charlie Warzel will become a senior writer focusing on that old chestnut — the fabled intersection of tech and culture.
And, just to put the final twee cherry on the tech cupcake, BuzzFeed also said Jessica Misener “will relocate to San Francisco to join the bureau, lead the bureau’s Web culture coverage, and continue to experiment with new post formats.”
Oh, asks the grizzled old lady reporter, whatever does that mean? News reported via drones? An entire investigation into sexism in Silicon Valley via Snapchat (ironic, I know!)? A Facebook-inspired online video show?
(Adds Chris Davies on Twitter: “Tech news in Iambic Pentameter. Tech news fired in licorice form from cannon. Tech news folded between your dry cleaning.” Genius!)
Honan, whom I spoke with briefly about the new job last night, seems thrilled at the challenge of building out a team. In a press release, he said: “BuzzFeed is one of the most ambitious companies in media, or any other field, and I’m incredibly excited to lead the San Francisco bureau for BuzzFeed News. Our coverage will be aggressive and bold, like our hiring, and we’ll look to do the kind of authoritative reporting that asks questions and gets real answers from the most powerful people in this industry. I can’t wait to get started.”
Honan gets started December 17, by the way, said BuzzFeed in its press release.
I am a big fan of Honan’s and think this is a terrific hire, which appears to aim BuzzFeed’s efforts in the feature and analysis direction. One of my favorite pieces of his — and the favorite of many — was a spot-on take on covering the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when he wrote for Gizmodo, titled “Fever Dream of a Guilt-Ridden Gadget Reporter.”
Here’s my fave passage:
There is a hole in my heart dug deep by advertising and envy and a desire to see a thing that is new and different and beautiful. A place within me that is empty, and that I want to fill up. The hole makes me think electronics can help. And of course, they can.
They make the world easier and more enjoyable. They boost productivity and provide entertainment and information and sometimes even status. At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.
Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.
And, oh, I am guilty. I am guilty. I am guilty.
I feel that way too. More than most, probably. I’m forever wanting something new. Something I’ve never seen before, that no one else has. Something that will be both an extension and expression of my person. Something that will take me away from the world I actually live in and let me immerse myself in another. Something that will let me see more details, take better pictures, do more at once, work smarter, run faster, live longer.
Maybe I’ve even made you feel that way too.
A sad cavalcade of fat men with roll-aboard luggage rushes past, looking at their phones as they walk, blocking my way.
(Welcome to Bossville, Mat!)
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.