The Architect of Innovative Publishing
“We have a pretty good record at having anticipated some of the big developments in recent technological history. … For instance, we launched the first commercial Web site, GNN [The Global Network Navigator], in 1993; we organized the meeting at which the term ‘open source’ was first adopted; we were early investors in Blogger, which helped launch the blogging revolution; and more recently, our Web 2.0 conference launched a worldwide meme,” according to the blog.
“We are now helping other companies to understand how to apply our insights and use our trendspotting tools, rather than just using them internally,” O’Reilly says.
However, this radar is not the only key to O’Reilly Media’s success.
“An even bigger part is that we ask the question: What do people really need to know? … We really want to add value, and that means holding to certain standards,” he says. “So we don’t just rush out yet another book on a subject. ... We try to do books that live up to our internal mission statement: ‘Changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.’”
Often, however, the company doesn’t just spread the knowledge, it also plays an integral role in creating it.
The Future Looks Bright
Tim O’Reilly thinks of his company, which he founded in 1978, not just as a publishing company, but as a kind of technology-transfer company.
“We do that through books, magazines, conferences and online. The fastest-growing areas of our business are conferences —face-to-face knowledge distribution, online publishing initiatives like Safari, and our new magazine publishing division, which includes two quarterly magazines called Make: and Craft. These divisions are all growing 30 percent a year or more, and we actually expect that to accelerate,” he says. “Our computer book publishing divisions are relatively slow-growth, 10 percent—but that’s pretty good in a market that is itself growing only about 2 percent a year, if that.”