Richard McManus reads, writes, webs

Kiwi internet entrepreneur Richard MacManus has always had the dream of writing a book. Ever since selling his technology blog ReadWriteWeb (RWW), which he started back in 2003, to US-based media company Say Media in 2011, that is exactly what he has been working on.

Now living a much quieter life in his Petone home, without the need to get up at odd hours to follow the US timezones, MacManus is working on research and writing of his first book, which will focus on consumer health technology.

“I’ve always wanted to write a book, it’s been a lifelong dream. Now I have the opportunity to do that,” he tells Idealog. “I wanted to delve into a particular topic, in this case consumer health technology, in a much deeper way than a blog or news website allows,” he adds, justifying the decision to write a book rather than starting a new online venture.

MacManus grew RWW from a one-man show to a company of about 20 staff, all based in the US. All of its revenue was also coming from that country so he decided that, to continue to grow, the site would need to be managed from the US.

“To ramp it up even more from little old NZ would’ve been very difficult. Also it was just the right time to sell for me personally, after nearly a decade spent building up RWW. It had been a long road and a lot of hard work, although very satisfying seeing something I created become so successful overseas,” says the entrepreneur.

MacManus hasn’t regretted the decision. Say Media has redesigned the website, rebranding it as ReadWrite, and appointed Owen Thomas as editor-in-chief, someone who MacManus says he has “a lot of respect for”. “He really gets what RWW is about and so I was thrilled when he was appointed editor-in-chief earlier this year. RW is in great hands.”

For now, MacManus says he will focus on his goal to have his book finished by the end of this year. He is currently in the process of writing it and has not gotten a publisher lined up yet. He may have the goal of publishing his own paperback but the idea is not completely disconnected from his passion for technology. “I really got interested in health technology after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, back in November 2007. Given my passion for technology, it prompted me look at what technology was available to help,” he explains. “It turns out that this was a period where consumer-driven health tools were just beginning to come out, so I developed a big interest in that sector of technology and tracked it closely from then on.”

A wave of fitness trackers and health-focused gadgets has been flooding the consumer technology market in recent years and MacManus believes that the trend is set to continue. Health technology, he says, “gives more power to people to track and manage their health”. Consumer healthcare technology is set to change the lives of everyone involved, doctors and patients alike. “It won’t necessarily help with diagnosis, a doctor is always going to be the best at that. But these tools certainly help with prevention of disease and, most importantly, give people the ability to help themselves when it comes to their health.”

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