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Wall Street thrives on gossip. It employs a horde of affluent, desk-bound information junkies. So it should be fertile ground for profit-minded bloggers bent on posting items about who’s making how much and which bank snared a lead role on the latest mega-deal.
But so far, no Wall Street or City blog has gained much traction.
A new entrant, Dealbreaker.com, hopes to change that. The blog quietly opened up shop last week, although technical glitches made it unavailable for several hours.
According to an introductory post, Dealbreaker aspires to provide “interviews with people about how much money they make and whether they sometimes buy things just so they can throw them away, sightings of Eliot Spitzer, pitchbook origami, fun with league tables, and so on.”
Dealbreaker founder Elizabeth Spiers, the first editor of celebrity and media gossip blog Gawker.com, said she hoped to start breaking original news about Wall Street personalities and scandals. “It could be anything you might talk about at a cocktail party,” she said of the site’s news ambitions.
But others have made similar attempts with decidedly limited success.
Dealbreaker’s launch follows the 2005 debut of Underthecounter.net, a Wall Street gossip blog run by an anonymous banker. Underthecounter made an early splash with items on Wall Street bonuses. But since then the site has consisted almost entirely of links to other sites and blogs. The anonymous tips have not exactly come pouring in.
Several Wall Street insiders said this was probably because the junior investment bankers and traders who might otherwise provide titbits are busy protecting their well-paid jobs. So they are not inclined to send juicy e-mails to an unknown blogger, even from anonymous accounts.
But Ms Spiers may have an advantage, several Wall Streeters said, given her reputation in the blogosphere. She is also an insider, having worked as an equity analyst for hedge funds during the dotcom boom years. “I feel like I understand the industry,” she said.
Carter Burden, chief executive of web-hosting firm Logicworks and Ms Spiers’ lead investor, said Dealbreaker would rely more on snark [sarcasm] and analysis than breaking news. “There has always been a certain amount of reverence and self-seriousness about financial journalism,” Mr Burden said. “That created an opportunity for us to take a less stodgy approach to the news.”
But will Dealbreaker make any money? Mr Burden said for now he was content to build out a boutique media firm. It is a plan similar to the one successfully executed by Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton.
Mr Denton, a former Financial Times reporter, did not respond to calls or an e-mail seeking comment.
Gawker.com, for its part, made an oblique reference to Dealbreaker’s launch, posting an item last Wednesday under the headline, “Get Your Bloggy, Gossipy Wall Street News Here.”
In an e-mail message, the anonymous Underthecounter editor welcomed Dealbreaker to the gossip patch. “As I see it, there’s definitely room for two gossipy Wall Street blogs,” the banker wrote. “The more readers who are attracted to the medium and topical area, the better. It’s not like readers have to pick sides – more than likely they’ll just read both.”
Ms Spiers and Mr Burden said Dealbreaker would follow a traditional media model. They said they were looking to sign up financial services advertisers as well as technology companies and high-end retailers.
Patrick Linehan, a Manhattan public relations executive, said if Dealbreaker started pulling in affluent eyeballs, PR pros and advertisers would take it seriously. “Time and again we’ve seen blogs take on lives of their own, and whether people want to admit it or not, they can become credible sources of information that not only influence their readers but also shape opinions and