Episode 70 — Matt Patane of the Des Moines Register

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Geoff:   Welcome to the Welch Avenue Show, episode number 70 — now with new mics!

Our guest today is Matt Patane, technology, innovation and economy reporter at the Des Moines Register. Matt took over the beat previously covered by Marco Santana last Fall and has been doing great work ever since.

Quick reminder before we get to Matt that the Welch Avenue Show is almost entirely funding funded by our listeners like you. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us this far. If you’d like to contribute, you can do so on Patreon by going to showtipjar.com to find out how.

Now on to episode 70 with Matt Patane.

Geoff:    I'm still don't have a good handle onwhat everybody's doing at the Register in modern Register days.

Matt:    "Newsroom of the Future" days.

Geoff:    Yeah, not even modern. What's happening tomorrow? 

Matt:    Yeah.

Geoff:    That's what I want to know, the future.

Matt:    Exactly. We're all about the next steps.

Geoff:    Yeah. How many TVs are there at the Register? 

Matt:    Let's see. We've got at least 10 in the newsroom.

Geoff:    I want to say it's 63 or something like that. 

Matt:    I don't know. That's information I'm not privy to. 

Geoff:    Were you there at the old Register when you moved over?

Matt:    No, I was never in the old building.

Geoff:    Oh, okay. Might have been after you joined them, but is it Rick Green, the old publisher that just left? 

Matt:    Yeah, now he's the old publisher. He left on Friday, actually.

Geoff:    Oh, it was just Friday?

Matt:    Yeah.

Geoff:    He did a video tour, and he was counting up TV screens as he went through. I want to say it was 63 or something.

Matt:    Yeah. We've got some of those that are promoting our own stuff, and then a lot of them, we actually do use to cover, or at least to see what else is going on in the world.

Geoff:    Oh, so it's not just KCCI?

Matt:    It's not just KCCI. 

Geoff:    Do you have KCCI on? 

Matt:    Sometimes. Sometimes it's WHO, sometimes it's CNN. I don't know. 

Geoff:    It's never WOI? 

Matt:    I don't know. It might be. You're going to get me in trouble. 

Geoff:    No, I'm just ...

Chris:    They're trying a lot harder now. 

Geoff:    To get WOI? I haven't watched the new broadcast.

Chris:    They've rebranded and everything.

Geoff:    "We Are Iowa" or something? 

Chris:    Yeah.

Geoff:    Yeah. 

Chris:    The URL is just horrible. WeAreIowa. This is my personal opinion, not the opinions of Gravitate or Welch Avenue Show, et cetera, et cetera.

Geoff:    Funny. Are we ...

Chris:    We are going.

Geoff:    We're good. Okay. Well, hi, Matt.

Matt:    Geoff.

Geoff:    Why don't you tell people who you are and what you've been working on?

Matt:    Yeah. I am the ... My full name is Matthew Patane. I'm the technology and innovation reporter over at the Des Moines Register. Some people would know me or reference me as the new-Marco for Marco Santana who was the old tech reported for about three years before he left us for warmer weather.

Geoff:    He plays that up a lot on Facebook, the weather.

Matt:    I know. I'm aware because he's trying to make us all jealous but he's in Florida, not Des Moines so who's really winning, is my question.

Geoff:    This is a good point.

Matt:    I've been with the Register since November of '13 where they brought me on to start covering ... Basically I was economy and general business news, some economic development thrown in there and then last November, in November '14, they asked me to take over the tech and innovation side.

A lot of what I've been covering is the startup scene here, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, all across the state and then more recently about national news and localizing it for Iowa. In the last two weeks alone we've had drone regulations from the FAA came down, or proposed drone regulations. Net neutrality got FCC approval which I know a lot of people are happy about. At the statehouse we've got this big discussion over broadband Internet and what the state needs in terms of high speed access.

Geoff:    That was, well, Obama gave his thoughts on that and then Branstad gave his thoughts on that so it was those two kind of mixed together, right?

Matt:    Internet right now, for whatever reason, seems to be a hot topic for politicians. In Iowa, it's about helping out the rural areas because places like Des Moines we have two major companies providing Internet but there's a lot of rural parts of the state that are kind of out of luck or relying on a lot of wireless or mobile Internet which can be helpful, but isn't as good as a 10 megabit per second connection necessarily. The president came down to the states a couple weeks ago or about a month ago at this point to tout his proposals for just Internet in general and more competition and things along those lines. Similar issues but a little bit different takes on both.

Geoff:    Sure. We do have two big companies in Des Moines. One of them sponsors some stuff here. We really appreciate that, CenturyLink. Not necessarily a lot of competition either, especially where I live in the near suburbs in Windsor Heights. We have them both, but it's not like we have many to choose from or that they're fundamentally different in price or anything like that. 

Matt:    Yeah, and that's one of the big discussions and being in the Midwest, I went to school at the University of Missouri in Columbia and it was the same situation down there where it was basically Mediacom and CenturyLink and even in parts of the city it was only Mediacom in some parts and only CenturyLink in others. Not getting into whether service is good from either company, but there's some people saying that two companies really isn't enough, especially for something that's as necessary as Internet speed.

It's not like you can go a day without going online anymore, especially if you're trying to run a business, go to school, be a journalist, be a startup, be whoever or whatever, you need that access.

Geoff:    Yeah, we're in a very beneficial spot here at Gravitate that were fiber connected to the carrier hotel which is in the building next door. It's a good spot for us. We don't have any limits as far as what we want to pay for. Because they wired the building, they actually have really good Internet to everybody in the building.

Matt:    Right. I know that's been a big selling point for companies in cities as well. The Iowa Startup Accelerator in Cedar Rapids, one of their big promotional tools was, "We've got the best Internet around," and I think they said that they had 10 gigabit availability. Now, whether anyone actually needs that is one argument versus the argument of, well, at least you've got it if you do need it. If you're trying to start a company and need to download a video file or upload a promotional video and it takes 10 seconds versus an hour and a half, that could mean a world of difference for some people.

Geoff:    We never touch ours here. We've never had the need for the speeds that we have here, but it's cool that they have ...

Matt:    Right.

Geoff:    I remember when, back when Silicon Prairie News was a thing, we were covering the whole Google fiber in Kansas City because that was one of our markets and one of the big feedbacks originally was, it's great that on one end it's this fast but if you don't have people that consume whatever you're creating on the other end that fast, it really doesn't really matter.

Matt:    Right. That's been one of the arguments is from CenturyLink, Mediacom, AT&T and basically the big providers, that they're rolling it out gigabit speed which is the gold standard and what everyone says they want, or at least it's cool sounding and that's why Google was rolling it out for one side at least. At the same time, me in my apartment, I don't need that and I probably can't afford it.

Geoff:    Even with House of Cards going out this weekend?

Matt:    Yeah, but my 3 megabit per second works generally well enough. Plus, that's me by myself. If you're talking about what a school needs, or 10 years down the line, so a lot of these smaller providers are arguing that it's not about now. It's about 10 years down the line because 10 years ago, companies were saying they needed 100 megabits and everyone at home was like, "We don't need that. We're never going to need that," and now people are asking for it, whether it's for high def video like House of Cards or video games or uploading and downloading other videos or whatever else it is, data itself is just ingrained in everything we do day to day.

Geoff:    Well, you said you went to Missouri. Where are you from originally?

Matt:    I was born on the East Coast, born in Maryland, grew up in St. Louis. My family moved out there when I was eight or nine. I don't really remember. Grew up in St. Louis, went to high school there, went to school at University of Missouri in Columbia studying political science and journalism and got a philosophy minor along the way because that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Geoff:    Very employable.

Matt:    Yeah. Now I'm in Des Moines where it's really cold. 

Geoff:    It can't be that much warmer in Columbia, right now.

Matt:    No, but it's windier here. 

Geoff:    That's true.

Matt:    That's the problem.

Geoff:    Yeah, I can see that. So what is your take on the community? The Internet conversation is interesting, but how do you feel about the state of technology? What are the most exciting stories right now that you've covered in the last two months or whatever.

Matt:    In Iowa specifically?

Geoff:    Well, both I guess.

Matt:    Sure. When I first got started, I got thrown into the deep end really quick which is how I like it, but I think within my first two weeks I toured Facebook's data center in Altoona, I toured Gravitate and went to every 1 Million Cups.

Geoff:    Those two things are comparable, by the way.

Matt:    You know, I thought so.

Geoff:    As far as dollars invested in getting them off the ground.

Matt:    Exactly. But toured Facebook, toured Gravitate, saw the first class of the Iowa Startup Accelerator graduate, recently the Global Insurance Accelerator got started here in Des Moines and that's really interesting having two accelerators start basically within a year of each other. I think it still has to be seen what the success rate of those companies are.

For Iowa in general, I think there's a lot going on here. I think some people want Iowa, or at least when the community got started 8 or 10 years ago they wanted Iowa to be Silicon Valley and personally, I don't think that's ever going to happen. I don't thing that initially should happen. From talking to some other people it's Iowa has certain sectors that it's good in. We're good in agriculture, manufacturing and insurance, especially in Des Moines so instead of trying to create a new Facebook, why don't we do something for those industries that we know that we're good in, that we know we have a critical mass in. On some level, those are less exciting industries, but they're just as important.

They're all major employers in the state, especially in Des Moines.

Geoff:    I think you're right. I think the people that say they want to be the next Silicon Valley ... Have you ever Googled that phrase?

Matt:    Silicon Valley?

Geoff:    Just, the next Silicon Valley.

Matt:    No I haven't.

Geoff:    It's really interesting because it's every city everywhere in the world has that. I wrote some posts on this back in the day. I think what people mean by that is they want Des Moines or whatever city they're talking about to be like a center of innovation. They want to be a place that attracts people to build that they're starting things from scratch and creating it. 

Silicon Valley isn't really Silicon Valley anymore, right? It was build on hardware. Now it's known for consumer software and other things. I imagine a lot of the hardware stuff is still there too.

I know that people really look down on that phrase, next Silicon Valley but I think it's more of a mentality that it is a roadmap that they're looking for.

Are you plugged in to this Cultivation Corridor? Have you been covering any of that?

Matt:    A little bit, yeah. When I was covering economic development and the economy is when they rolled out this Cultivation Corridor which, if people don't know it's basically this trying to connect Des Moines and Ames in a corridor or a golden circle or whatever term you want to use because I've heard both, and basically trying to foster biotech companies because we've got ISU. We've got places like Kemin and DuPont Pioneer is two of the big, I guess, poster children for that sector, so trying to grab in as much talent as we can to attract other companies here so that they can expand.

Geoff:    Yeah. I think it's really interesting and I've had lots of conversations with the people steering that and I don't know that I totally get it. I don't know that it's totally right for us. I think the name is bad. I bristle initially at the idea of ag and bioscience being the focus because I'm not an ag or bioscience, I don't really care. Not that I don't care about those things. They're just not interesting to me. I never took a chemistry class in my life, which is true.

As you talk to them, the more they explain it, the more it makes sense. I actually reached out to Brent.

Matt:     Brent Willett?

Geoff:     Brent Willett, and he's going to come talk here at some point about how tech companies like this part of the industry can get behind that and what that means. I think what I'm pulling from that is they like Silicon Valley isn't really Silicon Valley anymore, Cultivation Corridor doesn't just mean that it's a regional branding thing. It's going to grow the whole economy, even if you're not part of it, or at least that's the goal.

I think the name is bad because it's not a corridor. It's a circle. It's Des Moines and 50 miles around, right?

Matt:    Yeah. It's basically central Iowa or the greater Des Moines metro is what they're trying to go after. Corridor sounds good.

Geoff:    Corridor sounds good, but corridor sounds like Creative Corridor which, I don't know that that's a good name either, but it was already there.

I was at the Business Record breakfast the other day and they referred to central Iowa as the Corridor and I'm like, "Oh, this is going to be so confusing. I didn't like the name for eastern Iowa. I really don't like it for Des Moines but it's some branding agency that ...

Matt:    I think the name Cultivation Corridor is just that, it's just a name and it's a way to brand it not to us, not the people in Iowa. To everyone outside of here. The term Silicon Prairie or Silicon Valley, those are both the same way. You have a valley. We kind of have a prairie here, but when I think of prairie I don't think of Iowa. So do we call it Silicon Farmland? It doesn't really matter. It's just a name that we use to describe a certain area. I think the goal ...

Geoff:    I think the term is metonym. Do you know that term?

Matt:    I don't. 

Geoff:    Okay. I think metonym ... I looked this up one time because it was in an article about Silicon Prairie and Silicon Mitten in Michigan and the Silicon Bayou and all these people who have adopted that.

Matt:    There's a Silicon Bayou?

Geoff:    New Orleans area. 

Matt:    Okay.

Geoff:    I don't know that anybody there actually calls it. There's a Silicon Bayou News that had the exact same navigation as Silicon Prairie News when it started. I think the idea is to take the connotation of Silicon Valley and apply it to what makes your place your place.

Silicon Prairie, in retrospect, bad name. Silicon Prairie News didn't come up with that. That had been around for 50 years.

Matt:    Right. It's a phrase that I've heard other people use too.

Geoff:    The first time I saw it, it was the old Gateway Computer ads when they were still in Iowa and South Dakota, they would say, built on the Silicon Prairie, but I think it was even before that.

I think what's hard with that and what I found hard at Silicon Prairie News was getting people to buy into a regional name that they don't already agree with and don't necessarily feel is a label for them. I think it's really tough to be like, "You now are a citizen of the Cultivation Corridor." Where are you from? Not just Des Moines, but the Cultivation Corridor. It's just really hard to do.

Matt:    I know having talked with Brent and a couple others who were behind that effort, and this was going back almost a year now, but one of their main goals when they got started was getting every company who's going to be involved onboard. Not necessarily the people at Gravitate, but all the biotech companies, so getting them onboard with using the name.

Geoff:    There's ... Somebody tweeted a picture of their Midamerican Energy envelope now says, planted in the Cultivation Corridor or something like that, which I think is what they want people to say. It's a little too punny. The metaphor or whatever is too much for me, but I want to get behind it. If it was just a little logo, I'd be ... Because I was looking at how do I use that on Gravitate's site. I'm like, "I don't really want to call it that."

Matt:    I think the Cultivation Corridor or the effort to bring in more biotech companies, I think it's kind of going back to what the strengths of the state are, or at least of this region are. We do seem to have a good pipeline out of ISU and the University of Iowa to some extent for those people and we do have major companies like Kemin and DuPont Pioneer who, if you ask people outside of the state what gets made in Iowa, you'd probably say, "Bacon and ad equipment," but it's a lot more than that going on. I think it's a greater effort to draw more of that here.

Geoff:    We've talked about this on other episodes of this podcast before, about the need to bring people to Iowa for the express purpose of founding companies like these other centers of innovation like Boulder and Austin and places like that. People move there to be part of that community because they feel like it's going to give them a leg up to start something. We're not that place. Now this is a chance to be that place just around that.

Matt:    I think you're right. Going back to my initial thoughts of the community in Des Moines and in Iowa, I think we're ... Listening to you and a couple others talk about it, I don't think we're at the point where people are moving here to start startups. There's a lot of internal growth and maybe a lot of turnover because there's people who've done one venture and either succeeded or failed who then starting something else, but I don't know that we're seeing a lot of people come from the East Coast or the West Coast to move here, or even from Omaha to do that. I don't know that we're attracting the outside entrepreneurs here. I don't know that that's necessarily a bad thing for where the community is right now. I think that's just kind of how it is at the moment.

Geoff:    I hope this and other efforts ... Do you seem to find that? Because the more capital that's available, things like that, it's going to attract people of all sorts for that.

You said you got thrown in the deep end with covering all of this stuff. What's the future? What's your plan for the technology innovation coverage at the Register?

Matt:    The way I've been pitching it to myself and to everyone I've been talking to is I've got a couple things I want to cover. Obviously the startup community is a big part of it. I think one thing that Marco told me before he left was that every startup is an opportunity for a bigger story. You can write about the Bitcoin startup to write about Bitcoin's a cryptocurrency and I've done that. You can write about Bloomsnap, talk about the flower industry or whatever else. You talking about Bot or Men's Style Lab and use any of them as an avenue into the bigger story. That's part of it.

The other part I want to do is obviously the national stories and try to localize them, so net neutrality, drones, broadband Internet, any of those big issues and try to bring them down to the local level. Iowa uses all this stuff. I just don't know that there's a lot of coverage about how all these national issues, at least on the tech side, are affecting people. Cyber security would be a big example. The most recent one was Anthem with their massive breach and then the company came out and said 170,000 Iowans were potentially affected by it. If I'm able to take that and go, "All right, this happens. Here's what you can do about," or "Here's why this happened," or "Here's what the trend is," and boil it down to something that Iowans can relate to, I think that helps out.

The third big thing would be looking what I've been calling legacy companies, mostly because I can't think of a better term for them. Established companies like Principal or Vermeer or Kemin or DuPont Pioneer or John Deere, what they're doing to innovate because every company's a technology company now whether it's through cyber security or IT or whatever they're using and then they have to switch around for a new work force or whatever else so trying to explain what they're doing.

The startup stuff is exciting and a lot of people care about it, but I don't think a lot of people know that Principal down the street is doing whatever it is they're doing. I don't even know that yet so that's one thing I want to look into.

The other thing I've been telling people is I've got two side which is I'm part of this community and I do care about what the successes are, but part of my job is covering the bad news as well. I don't say that as I want to cover a failure to knock somebody down, but I think part of it is if this community wants to grow, whether it's the technology community or the startup community, those failures are important for people to know about so they can educate themselves. It's the same reason why we write about failures on the state level in government or education or whatever else. It's not because we want to knock people down. It's because we want people to know the full picture, basically.

Geoff:    Yeah, and I think, of any community that gets covered by the Register, the startup community should be the most responsive to that because I think that's beat into us at every level. Learn from failure. Maybe that is everywhere, I don't know. It feels like startups, there's a lot of talk, a lot of blog posts when you learn from venture capitalists and people from other cities, take these lessons, internalize them, do better next time. Absorb the people that fail back into the community and give them a leg up. I don't know if that really happens yet. Do you guys get push-back when you do coverage of the failures? Are people mad about it?

Matt:    It's only been a couple months for me so I haven't gotten a ton yet. I've had some people that are really open to it but I think you're right. I think the startup mentality in general and going back to Silicon Valley and New York or wherever is that, don't be afraid of failure. I think in Iowa, that mentality is taking on a little bit but the communities young enough and vulnerable enough where failure is still kind of scary.

Geoff:    That brings up a good point. I do think Iowa is a place that, and I'll attribute this to the kind of agrarian roots of the Midwest where people don't brag about what they do. They also don't want you sharing their dirty laundry. It's two sides of the same coin for that. I could see some people having trouble with it.

The other thing is there's not a lot of really public failures in the startup community that I've seen. They're more like fade-outs than there are ...

Matt:    That's been part of it too. It's completely hypothetical but if Principal implodes, everyone's going to know about it. They employ 6,000 people. But if a new startup that's been around for six months just fades off and then those guys go work at Principal, unfortunately they kind of just fade out into the crowd which I don't think is good. I think all types of stories should be told, but that's just my point of view given my job.

Geoff:    Silicon Prairie News was kind of the inside publication for people already in the industry. Business Record covers startups from the perspective of what do established businesses need to know about them. How would you say the Register's coverage is on ...

Matt:    Awesome. I think it's awesome. No, the way I view it is kind of both of those. I think you're right. Silicon Prairie News was more of the insider and so there's a lot of stuff that I hear about from different founders or startups about what's going on and I think about it and I'm like, "Oh, that's really cool and the startup community should hear about that." It could be something that happens at 1 Million Cups and maybe it only matters to that select crowd but I'm not going to nix it because of that. 

I think part of it is talking about, writing about and publishing what the startup community is doing and what the startup community cares about but also showing people outside of that what matters. 

It's kind of like writing about insurance for people who aren't in the insurance industry or maybe manufacturing would be better. Writing about what a manufacturing company is doing but explaining it in a way that some guy that's doing a startup or is insurance can understand.

My general take with anything I write is distilling it down, breaking it down, whatever term you want to use so that the person who's not the insider can understand it and can figure out why it's important.

A good example would be the whole net neutrality debate. It's something that affects everybody. The idea of an open Internet or paying for higher speeds for your Internet. That affects everyone but not everyone realizes it. If I'm able to write a story that explains to people, all right, this is how it's going to affect the startup. Here's how it's going to affect the company, here's how it affects the consumer who has nothing to do with the Internet besides going to watch House of Cards, then I've done my job. That's how I view it.

Geoff:    I think that's really important too. On one hand just to educate my grandmother on what it is that I do. I think that's a big thing. Not going to read Silicon Prairie News or anything but then also to raise interest amongst the general public in Des Moines about the startup community I guess is what I'm saying there. Also that helps share the story that if it is Bloomsnap, they want customers. That's probably going to be people reading the Register, not the people reading a tech blog. Getting those stories out there I think is really important. 

Are you inside the community you think or are you covering the community? How do you delineate between those two? How do you think of yourself, I guess?

Matt:    The way think, I think I'm more covering the community right now. Again, I think for where I am, that's not a bad thing. Being a reporter, there's certain lines you can't cross. A lot of it is ethical lines. This community has been great. Everyone I've met has been super nice and willing to talk to me, willing to hang out and grab coffee or whatever else so I haven't had a problem talking with people or getting to know people at all. 

I'll admit I think part of it is I view my job as covering the community. I'm not living what you guys are living necessarily. I don't have my own company. I'm not going through what everyone here is going through which on one hand is good and one hand is bad. I think maybe it limits how much I can share with you guys but that's also part of my job is keeping that distance so I can explain it to the general public because it can be very easy for any reporter covering politics, business, sports to get to ingrained in what they're covering and then they become part of it instead of reporting on it. Maybe that's not what some people want from me.

Geoff:    Oh, I don't know. I think that you're less, maybe, present as a member of the community than Marco, how he took the job. On the same hand I've seen you cover things that I think are important that he wouldn't have like you covered the Lunch and Learn with the accelerators here. You've written about things that happen at 1 Million Cups. I don't think he ever did that. It seemed like his focus was more on national trend stories that had an Iowa component to them, like the Facebook story or something, which I think would be more of a covering thing. I don't know.

Matt:    It's a good question but it's a hard one to answer. It's like that with anything. 

When I was covering politics when I was still in college it was the same thing. How deeply ingrained do you get with the lawmakers you talk to day to day. Covering business it's how deep would you get ingrained with the CEOs that you talk to every week and here it's the same thing. Here, it's really easy for me to come over the Gravitate and start talking to people and I could spend the entire day doing that and write stories just on you guys. At the same time, if I'm just doing that, I'm potentially opening myself up to only covering certain aspects whereas what I'm trying to do is cover all of it if I can. Cover the national stuff, cover the state stuff, cover the local stuff, cover startups, established companies, big issues.

Geoff:    I probably pay attention most outside of tech reporters to sports reporters and they seem like they're very ingrained in their ... They're obviously not athletes. They're not out there competing but you can tell they know all the players because they interview. It's just interesting to me to watch. 

I have actually, as a Cyclones fan, I have a list of all the people that cover Twitter so during a Cyclones game, I will follow that feed and you can tell they know these guys. At one point I remember the Register used to kind of switch people up. Now I don't think they do that as much. They just have the same ...

Matt:    Our sports team is pretty established and they do a fantastic ... As someone who doesn't know anything about sports at all, they do a fantastic job covering all of it. 

Geoff:    It's interesting to see that dynamic, just how it plays out. Geographic-wise, the paper Iowa depends on. I don't know if that still ... Was that the Register's slogan?

Matt:    I think that's still our tagline. 

Geoff:    Okay. Do you cover statewide? Or what do you mostly...

Matt:    Yeah. My goal is to cover statewide. Obviously we're in Des Moines, we're in downtown Des Moines so it's very easy to cover Des Moines. Plus I think in Iowa for technology, the main hubs are Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. My goal is to cover the entire state which is one reason I've been trying to cover EntreFEST and their announcements as much as I can. It's why I went out to the Iowa Startup Accelerator. It would have been very easy for me to go, "Well, it's in Cedar Rapids. Why would anyone care about it?" But then you can't limit yourself to that because eventually you run out of stories or you're limiting your audience and I don't think technology is something that is limited by geography by any means. 

My goal is to cover the state as much as I can and whether that's covering startups across the state or just issues across the state, I'm still trying to figure out all that, but I don't want to limit it.

Geoff:    Yeah. It seems like a big task for one person. As you mentioned, every company is a technology company. What is IBM doing in Dubuque or what is Rockwell Collins doing in Cedar Rapids? Trying to cover all those stories plus there's Entrepalooza in Sioux City last week, just trying to cover all.

Matt:    I did not cover Entrepalooza personally. I think I wrote out about the announcement. Part of it's just a balance of time. I can travel up there and get a couple good stories. Not that they're not worth telling. Or, the local guys up there covered it and did a good job I thought. I would have been kind of out of my element. Not that I'm not out of my element day to day, but it would have been a negative out of my element.

Geoff:    Coolest story you've covered so far? Which one have you had the most fun with, I should say?

Matt:    That's a good question. I keep going back to the last couple weeks. I've had a lot of fun covering these national stories. Covering net neutrality was really fun just because I heard a lot of people yelling on both sides about it. Covering broadband Internet and what we need in Iowa has been really fun. Getting a tour of Facebook was really cool, even if it was a little closed off for a journalist's taste, but the fact that I got to walk around this part of a billion dollar data center and get to see what's going on there was cool.

Again, the Startup Accelerator, their demo day was a great introduction to the community because I think it was my first week on the job. I think 800 people showed up. I got to see the 10 teams pitch. I had no idea what an accelerator was before that. Hadn't even heard about it. I mean, I'd heard of the Startup Accelerator but didn't really know what the program was so that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that. Plus we were on the StartupBus. I just can't quite figure out if that's an official StartupBus or if that's just some person on Twitter going, "Hey, let's get a bus."

Geoff:    I've heard it described that the StartupBus is more of a concept than a physical thing.

Matt:    That's what it seems like, yeah.

Geoff:    It's kind of like Air Force One. Whichever bus the community is riding on is the StartupBus. It doesn't mean that there's a physical bus that is the StartupBus.

Matt:    But eventually I'm waiting, and maybe it'll take a couple years. I'm waiting for there to actually be a bus that just has StartupBus written on it. I don't know where it would be parked though.

Geoff:    That's a good question because you have, like you said, it's about two hours between Cedar Rapids and Des Moines so you have a lot of activity going on either place. You've got Iowa City activity and Cedar Falls and Entrepalooza three hours away. I don't get up to northwest Iowa very often. Interesting piece this all together.

If people do want to reach ... How do you want people to reach out to you? Should they reach out to you with story leads or what's the best way to contact you?

Matt:    Absolutely. I'm always open to listening to people. My thing is I never promise a story but I think everyone has an interesting story or is interesting to talk to at some point so if people want to reach me email always works, Twitter always works. My email is mpatane@dmreg.com and Twitter is just @mattpatane and hopefully you can find that. If not, just search the Register and you'll find me on there, I'm sure. I would hope.

Geoff:    I did notice that they updated your picture on the tech page. 

Matt:    They did. 

Geoff:    It was Marco for the longest time.

Matt:    No, and actually I did that because I'm like, "Marco's gone. He needs to ..."

Geoff:    It says, "Meet the reporter," and there's Marco.

Matt:    Yep. Yeah, I notice that. I'm like, "That's not fair anymore. He's got his own thing down in Orlando now." I took back the tech page from Marco.

Geoff:    Tech page comes out ...

Matt:    I'm writing daily for the Register but in the print edition we have a Sunday tech page or Sunday innovation page which is one page dedicated solely to Iowa tech and innovation news and then all that stuff shows up online so if you don't subscribe to the print edition, which I don't know why you wouldn't.

Geoff:    Do you subscribe to the print edition?

Matt:    I don't subscribe to the print edition. I do subscribe to the Register though. But you can find all that stuff online. I'm trying to get better at the stuff that's in Sunday, displaying it out throughout the week to help ...

Geoff:    It's only out once?

Matt:    I'm trying to do that a little bit more

Geoff:    Does it lose timeliness?

Matt:    Does it lose what?

Geoff:    Does it lose timeliness if it was on ...

Matt:    It depends. When I wrote about the Startup Accelerator guys coming here, that's something that, if it had happened on Tuesday and I wrote it up, I could have put online Wednesday and it would have been published in print Sunday, but that's not something that is like, this happened today. It needs to go up today. It can last a little bit.

Geoff:    Sure. I was thinking it was the other way around. You do print first and then ...

Matt:    Yeah, it depends on what it is. It depends on what the story is. I'm going to go cover a legislative bill here in a couple hours. 

Geoff:    Sweet.

Matt:    I know. It's super exciting. That's something that would go up today, be printed tomorrow. It just depends on what it is but I think most people, especially in the tech community will find stuff online sooner than in print.

Geoff:    I think you're right. I did not realize that they had the newspaper in print now.

Matt:    Yes.

Geoff:    I've got to go check that out.

Matt:    It's a new technology.

Geoff:    It's a new technology.

Chris:    So the print off the web page and mail it to people? I don't understand. Maybe talk with me offline.

Matt:    I'll have to do that. It's a bit complicated.

Geoff:    When you were here the other day for when Grassley was here, do you remember him talking about that?

Matt:    A little bit. 

Geoff:    He said that his staff faxes him the Register every day.

Matt:    That's what I found surprising. I'm like, "You could just go on ..." I was surprised. I thought he could just go online.

Geoff:    I really want to meet his staff and ask them how they do that. Is it a flatbed and they take different... 

Matt:    That would be ... Yeah.

Geoff:    Or do they just print it off and then fax the printed sheet because that would ... I'm just really curious how that is.

Matt:    I know. I'm not quite sure. We have an e-edition so you can virtually page through the paper online but I guess fax still works. 

Geoff:    And you know it's not like ... The way that he's active on Twitter, you know that he is online. It's not like he ...

Matt:    He does use the Internet.

Geoff:    Yeah, he uses the Internet. I thought that was really ... I was actually really ... We've talked about this on here too. I was really impressed with him. He's clearly sharp mind, knew everybody as he walked around, what the companies were doing. Yeah. That one faxing thing, I'm a little hung up on that.

Matt:    I'm still surprised when people say they're using fax machines but it's more and more that I'm hearing about it, actually. 

Geoff:    Yeah, yeah. Well cool, man. Thanks for coming in today. This was a great chat.

Matt:    Yep.

Geoff:    See you around.