Tyler Bleszinski – Founder of SB Nation

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Tyler Bleszinski is the founder and editorial director of SB Nation which is the fastest growing online sports media company. He is responsible for building the foundation of the more than 300 sites that have become immensely popular with sports fans around the world. He works with the bloggers on a daily basis to ensure that they have editorial support and guidance.

I love to come up with ideas and then working to figure out how to make them happen. The one thing I would say is if you’re ever going to do something in business or in life, do something you’re passionate about and that you can spend time doing even if it wasn’t your job. I’ve always loved writing and sports so this was a natural evolution for my life.

What are you working on right now?

Soccer is a big part of SB Nation’s thrust in 2011. We’ve been building out our international coverage with individual blogs as well as coverage of the sport at sbnation.com. I personally think we already cover the sport better than any North America online outlet and I think it’s only going to get better and better. We also launched Baseball Nation (baseballnation.com) this year with Rob Neyer leading the way and he’s supported by three of our longest tenured, best baseball writers in our network. It’s a daily must read for every baseball fan.

What does your typical day look like?

I never have a typical day. They’re all pretty different which is part of the reason why I enjoy this company and this experience more than I have anything else I’ve ever done. I love talking with bloggers and our league managers and helping them support our writers when they run into issues. Everything from working on getting them credentials to whether or not a post strikes the right balance on criticizing the local team. I’ve never worked harder at anything but I’ve also never had a more rewarding professional experience.

3 trends that excite you?

News becoming mobile and the advent of smartphones. I love the fact that our readers will soon be able to interact in GameThreads while at games in a smooth and natural fashion. I’m one of those people who is always attached to their phone when I’m not attached to my laptop. Sure it means you never really disconnect but in the position I’m in, that’s not a bad thing.

More and more bloggers breaking news that traditional media doesn’t have. It doesn’t need to be sports, anything, from politics to entertainment. I love to see the online media pushing the traditional media to be better.

Our company growing to the point where we’ve been able to hire full time quite a few of the original bloggers who joined me at the start of SB Nation. They believed in the vision from the beginning and nothing makes me happier than seeing this come to fruition.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The key is having an incredible product team. They’re honestly the best in the business. They take feedback from our bloggers and make changes and improvements all the time. I personally believe we have the best platform in the world and they’ve created it from the original.

What inspires you?

It’s going to sound cheesy but our bloggers inspire me every single day. I may have started the network with a single blog, but the stuff produced by our network is better than almost any other sports content produced out there these days. And they’ve pushed way beyond anything I did back in 2003. It what drives me to work late in the night and every weekend because I know they’re doing that same exact thing simply for the love of what they do. It’s beautiful and truly inspiring.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I love to come up with ideas and then working to figure out how to make them happen. The one thing I would say is if you’re ever going to do something in business or in life, do something you’re passionate about and that you can spend time doing even if it wasn’t your job. I’ve always loved writing and sports so this was a natural evolution for my life.

What do you read every day? Why?

One thing I regret is that as someone who oversees more than 300 blogs, I don’t always get to read everything in our network. We’re producing so much content every day that it is overwhelming at times. But I’m also a big fan of my teams so I do check in on athleticsnation.com, inlouwetrust.com and podiumcafe.com the first thing every morning. Then I look at what the big news of the day is and I make sure and cruise by our blogs and see what their take on the topic is. It’s always something interesting and unique because we have the advantage of showcasing fan perspective every day. SBNation.com is also one of the best roundup for the “trending” sports world you can find anywhere. And it isn’t just Google bait. There is original thought there and something for everyone. I’m put our writers against any other media.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

You ask that of an A’s fan? You know I’m going to say Moneyball, right? Not just because it’s a book about my favorite franchise but it’s a book about thinking outside of conventional wisdom to get over an underdog problem. I loved the book because it’s all about approaching things from a new and fresh perspective. It may not be working as well as it once was for the A’s, but seeing the inside view of how a professional sports franchise tried to re-invent things in real time was remarkable.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

Can I just say Google? It rules my life. Everything from GChat to calendar. And the beauty is that it all came together on my Droid phone. I’m still on the Droid 1 and I love the thing.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

John Battelle of Federated Media. We used to be with them a while ago before we brought our sales force internal. He’s got an interesting background.

What was your training for your current position?

I went to school for journalism and while I was in college I wrote for a now defunct hockey magazine that allowed me to get a media credential and interview many of the biggest NHL stars of the day; Pavel Bure, Jeremy Roenick, Martin Brodeur, Paul Kariya. It gave me some really valuable experience in terms of understanding the press box etiquette issue that many of our bloggers run into now.

My journalism background helped ready me for this, but a lot of it is also forging a new direction with media and that’s something you have to really rely on instincts. I believe my media background helped prepare me in terms of lifting the veil of objectivity that still resides in the traditional media and bring our biases and rooting interests out in the open. We are who we are and we don’t try and pretend that humans producing content don’t have biases.

What’s been your personal highlight of SB Nation?

There have been simply too many to choose one. When we first got venture funding and brought in our outstanding CEO Jim Bankoff, our first meeting with our then three-person tech team which has become the backbone of what we do, the first time we hit a million page views a day, going on Sportscenter to discuss steroids from a fan perspective and one of our sites being the question to a Jeopardy answer recently.

Connect :

SBNation.com is the gateway to our entire network. You can find every site for every team you could want there whether you’re a Yankees fan, a Tampa Bay Lightning fan or a Real Madrid fan. We’ve got a site for you. @sbnation and we’re also on Facebook.

This interview was brought to you by Rohit Jain who works in business development. You can follow Rohit via his blog and on Twitter.
Published on August 12, 2011 .

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