I wasn’t planning to work yesterday - life has been quite stressful this past week dealing with social care issues - and I had absolutely promised myself a day of not thinking about work. That didn’t stop me checking social media, of course, which was just as well.
‘Hey Steve, don’t know if this is of interest?’ read one of the messages, linking to a regulatory filing on Companies House. After a quick scan of the document in question, my reply was emphatic: ‘Yes :)’
Facebook had quietly acquired another U.K. company: Scape Technologies, the London-based computer vision startup working on positioning technology that is more accurate than GPS. Hidden out in the open, I knew I had to move fast.
The filing indisputably showed that Facebook now owned at least 75% of Scape and also revealed that all of the startup’s venture capital backers had resigned from the board, so I began typing.
Within 25 minutes, I had crafted a short news story, had a lawyer also give the various filings a once over in an attempt to extract more, and contacted Facebook and Scape for comment. In addition, I called a number of my other sources within the U.K. tech community to see if I could definitely nail the acquisition price or learn of Facebook’s plans for Scape, which largely drew a blank.
Hours later, Facebook confirmed the story: ‘We acquire smaller tech companies from time to time. We don’t always discuss our plans,’ emailed one of the social networking behemoth’s spokespeople.
The take-away: Journalism and original reporting can be about lots of things: years of building up sources and gaining people’s trust, making judgement calls, triangulating information, doing proper research, and a willingness to pick up the phone or use up some shoe leather.
But sometimes it can be as simple as having eyes and ears on the ground, and when a message like yesterday’s drops, not being afraid to move fast and break things*.