The Next Web has branched out into in-depth blockchain and cryptocurrency coverage with the launch of a newsbrand called Hard Fork.
Alejandro Tauber, editor in chief of The Next Web told The Drum that this new brand allows writers to delve deeper into the topics than they could at The Next Web. Where there is a more general audience interested in everything from "the influence of EU politics on startups, to news about the latest phone from China".
"Under Hard Fork we can indulge in fancies that might be too in-depth for TNW’s general audience, we can dive deeper into stories that appeal to a more specific target audience," said Tauber.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are fields that have surged into the public consciousness in the last few years and this has left a lot of room for a specialized publisher to play.
Both terms have become buzzwords, finding their way into increasingly more marketing and start-up literature. Hard Fork looks to be the publication to help navigate this space, by all means, a "crazy interesting industry" according to Tauber.
He underlined that it is the perfect time to get into the crypto space. Especially in this environment where governments or looking at regulating or deregulating the tech and old-school brands are jumping on the bandwagon (without a comprehensive grasp of the fundamentals sometimes).
Tauber also outlined that there are stories to tell from the people in the crypto congregation. “There are the messianic creators of certain technologies and their fantastically dogmatic followers, the true believers in a decentralized utopia and the scammers abusing that belief, and the rags to riches and riches to rags stories.”
The outing is leveraged upon a partnership with trading social network eToro, which will provide financial backing – and provide editorial access to top creators, investors, and traders in the industry. Hard Fork meanwhile will maintain complete editorial independence.
For the uninitiated, a Hard Fork is what happens when a blockchain technology is cloned into a separate, slightly different entity - like with Bitcoin to Bitcoin Cash.
This ‘Hard Fork’ in the context of the title, according to Tauber is “taking the core DNA of TNW – the tone-of-voice, the zany images, the types of stories we cover – and applying that to covering cryptocurrency and blockchain related stories”.
To help it stand out, Hard Fork has been granted a “separate visual identity” - a whole new design with some minor elements linking it to TNW. Tauber points to the “avant-garde collage-type modernist feature images,” and the brand's willingness to embrace bold colours.
It has been built for a mobile audience and Tauber is quite happy to take a “modular” approach to the design, adapting as they go.
To start, the team will be cautiously small, with editor Mix Dimitar digging in with two other full-time writers. The full resource of The Next Web will also be made available, meaning a larger pool of contributors on tap.
Freelancers and thought leaders will also be drafted on a case-by-case basis.
The brand will be integrated into TNW’s live events too, creating a platform for deeper conversation in the space in Amsterdam, feeding back on interest in the space.
Yoni Assia, chief executive and founder of eToro, said that the industry has just scratched the surface of blockchain and crypto.
He added: "This joint effort will push towards educating the next 100 million users about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and spark their minds with new ideas that might turn into new technological advancements."