Austin, Texas is well-known for its food and music, but it’s also beginning to make a name for itself in the technology industry. To chronicle this movement, the Austin American-Statesman has launched 512tech.com. Named after the original Austin area code, the website will cover all things in the city’s tech world, from startups and established companies to new ventures with a focus on detailing the industry’s culture.
“Technology is one of our franchise areas of coverage,” said editor Debbie Hiott. “It’s one of the main things that we cover that stands out from other local competition in our minds.”
Launched in March, the site currently has three dedicated Statesman reporters and the newspaper’s business editor and lifestyle editor oversee the coverage.
“What we wanted to do was really see if there was a way to better capture overall the sort of culture of Austin’s technology scene,” Hiott said. “Not just the deals, not just the gadgets, but what is it like. Who are the people? What are the issues? How’s it growing? How are they dealing with growing pains?”
During coverage of Austin’s recent SXSW Interactive festival, the Statesman’s visuals team was especially involved with the 512tech.com members, as well as its social media team.
While Hiott admitted it was difficult to market the site initially, the website has already seen great success. In its first two weeks, the site doubled overall website traffic compared to last March.
Hiott said parent company, Cox Media Group, helped build the website utilizing a new content management system that will soon be rolled out to the group’s larger websites.
“That was a huge resource help having the whole company and the technology group behind us,” Hiott said. “(And) 512tech was kind of a very small piloting program for (CMG) to learn the (new CMS).”
512tech.com isn’t a pilot project for the Statesman. The newspaper already runs HookEm.com, a niche website dedicated to Texas Longhorns coverage, and there’s potential to build additional sites for topics like food and entertainment.
For now, the focus is on building the 512tech brand. “I really want to be able to have some role in facilitating a larger conversation about what’s going on with technology in Austin,” Hiott said. “It’s a very diverse, interesting community and we’d like to help keep the conversation going about what makes it better.”