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Who's in the Video
Michael Wolff is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the founder of news aggregation site He is a two-time National Magazine Award winner, and his latest book, "The Man[…]

His first internet company tanked. So was Wolff nervous about launching Newser?

Question: Your first internet company failed. What was that rnexperience like? 

Michael Wolff: It was a great rnexperience, actually. I sort of wandered into this business rninadvertently. I was in the book publishing business and I started to rnpublish books about technology and about the Internet. I suppose earlierrn than most, through this product that really had nothing to do with the rnInternet or technology, nevertheless being about those subjects, rnintroduced me to this business. And in New York I became sort of very rnearly one of the few people who had any claim on knowing anything about rnthis business; although, I'd like... a footnote that I really knew rnnothing at all. 

But as this business started to heat up, anybodyrn who had any claim on it was suddenly at center stage, and it was rnopportunity knocking, venture capital came my way, and I began to build arn company, again, having no idea what kind of company I was building or rnreally idea about the business in which I was building this company. 

Sorn this was truly learning on the job. And I can only say in my defense rnthat virtually everybody who was starting Internet businesses at that rnpoint in time was also learning on the job. And I learned... not enough,rn but nobody in those days learned enough and everyone, virtually rneveryone, went under and I went under as well. I was in the fortunate rnposition to be able to tell the story and I wrote a book called “Burn rnRate” and that, which I still think serves as one of the great rncautionary tales of the period, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Question:rn Did you fear the same fate with Newser? 

Michael Wolff:rn I took certain steps when I started Newser to ensure that I had gotten rnsomewhat older and I didn't think that my system would be able to rntolerate the highs and lows of the first experience in the Internet. So Irn went into Newser with a few safety measures; my partner in Newser is rnsomeone who absolutely knows what he's doing, who has started two rnsuccessful companies on the Internet. He founded and took rnthat public and then sold it to Dunn & Bradstreet and he started rnHighBeam which another news database company, which he sold. 

So Irn feel in remarkably good hands. The editor-in-chief of Newser is also rnCaroline Miller who was the editor-in-chief of New York magazine; an rnincredibly, professional, and tenacious and accomplished woman. So in rnreality, at Newser I do very little. 
Recorded on May 19, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman