One Friday afternoon last month the GenomeWeb staff scooted out of the office early for an impromptu party. Over rounds of margaritas and beer, we toasted a milestone: GenomeWeb.com hosted more than 1 million page views in the month of March — a new record for our 19-month-old daily news operation. A nerdy sort of celebration, for sure, but the evidence of our expanding readership was a good excuse for a happy hour. It’s also a good time to take stock of what readers are doing on our site.
From the start, we’ve operated with a few basic assumptions: genomics scientists and entrepreneurs need an industry hub — a place to go to keep up with what your competition and your colleagues are doing; genomics labs and companies are filled with fascinating characters and intriguing stories that make for good reading; being young, innovative, and adventurous, this industry is not averse to having some fun at the same time it considers serious subjects; you want to know where the money is and what the markets are.
According to what you’re reading on our website, our assumptions were correct. Here’s the list, in ascending order, of the headlines of the most-read stories ever on GenomeWeb.com, all still available in our web archives:
10. With the Market in the Dumps, VCs Rethink Genomics Valuations
9. Big Pharma, On the Ropes, Says It Knows What It Wants from Genomics. But Will That Spur a Turnaround?
8.E Study Foresees Proteomics Market Growing to $5.6 Billion by 2006
7. With $1 Billion in the Bank, Invitrogen Hungry for Proteomics, Informatics Acquisitions
6. “Enraged” Researcher Shuts Down Public Sequence Database, Claiming Unfair Use
5. Will Bayer’s Woes Intensify its Current Bioinformatics and Genomic Deals?
4. Despondent and Dejected, Genomics Researcher Kills Former Boss, Self
3. DoubleTwist Crashes and Burns; Assets Are Put on the Block
2. Disney to Acquire Celera’s Sequencing Business, Open Drug Discovery Pavilion at Epcot
1. Public Library of Science Prepares to Boycott Journals with Launch of Publishing Effort
What does the list say about you, the reader?
Clearly, there’s your sense of humor. Our second most-read story appeared on April 1: a fictitious April Fool’s report that Disney would pay $175 million cash to move Celera to Orlando’s Epcot Center and use ABI’s technologies to build a “Sky Sequencer” roller coaster. GenomeWeb readers circulated the joke far and wide, posting it on the Biotech Rumor Mill and even a Disney Cruise Lines chat room.
Then there’s your interest in human interest. What can we say to the critics who dismiss our content as too light on science when, in a month rife with reports on new microfluidics, sequencing, and bioinformatics technologies, it was the tragic story of Matthew Huang that captured more readers’ attention? Even serious scientists are interested in what makes people tick, it seems.
And there’s money. The projected size of the proteomics market, the amount of money Invitrogen has to spend on acquisitions, and how VCs value genomics companies are the topics that pique readers’ interest. Pharma, too, of course, is a big part of the money equation. The headline “Big Pharma Knows What It Wants from Genomics,” drew in throngs of readers.
(The issue of GT you’re holding right now, incidentally, attempts to satisfy some of that interest in what big pharma is up to. Our first pharmacogenomics-themed issue features Meredith Salisbury’s cover story on how pharmaceutical companies are working pharmacogenomics into their drug discovery process. Or how they’re not. As she reports based on interviews with more than 30 industry experts, genomics tools and data providers that are waiting to be vindicated by the first pharmacogenomic drug coming to market might have to wait quite awhile longer.)
Finally, the most-read story in GenomeWeb history to date was something of a fluke. A fan last year posted a link on Slashdot.org to Bernadette Toner’s report on the Public Library of Science, resulting in more traffic on our site in one day than we’ve ever seen. But we figure the interest of that community tells us something else about our readership: Slashdot’s motto is News for Nerds. Our kind of people.
Adrienne Burke, Editor in Chief