Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Sunday is the quietest news day of the week for the tech industry, but Evan Blass — the man behind @evleaks, a Twitter account that regularly breaks news of upcoming phones and announcements — picked today to announce his “retirement” from reporting phone scoops.
That’s great news for Samsung, HTC, LG, Microsoft and the host of other companies who, at some point or another, have had word of a new product get out early, and without permission, via @evleaks.
All good things must come to an end. Thank you for an amazing two years. [RETIREMENT]
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) August 3, 2014
Blass’s leaks have appeared on almost every tech blog on the internet. Though he hasn’t got everything right, his high rate of success and big scoops make it fair to call him the internet’s most prolific leaker of smartphones — so why is he calling it quits?
Blass took time to talk to TNW and explain in his own words why he is retiring. After a lengthy conversation, he provided the responses below via email.
TNW: So Evan, your decision to retire from leaking has surprised a lot of people. Can you explain the reasons behind it?
Evan Blass: These matters are always somewhat complicated, but like many things, it mostly comes down to money. Trying to monetize a stream of Twitter leaks is not easy. First I tried monthly sponsorships. Then weekly. Then single sponsored tweets. I took donations — felt like online panhandling.
I also started a website, and it’s actually done somewhat respectably, but with all the leaks going out on Twitter anyway, people have little incentive to visit, and most of my tech-savvy-heavy audience seem to be pretty heavy ad-block users, as well. It all adds up to an unsustainable living, and with a progressively worsening disease [Ed; Blass was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis], I need to make sure I can prepare myself better for the future, financially.
TNW: Is there a chance that you might reverse this decision and return to leaking again in the future?
EB: Almost certainly not. This is not a pack-your-bags-and-move-down-to-Florida retirement. I plan to start another career now, for reasons stated above. Hopefully one with some matching 401k action.
TNW: Looking back, what’s been your favorite leak or proudest moment, and why?
EB: My favorite leak was the HTC M8 Prime, even though the phone is dead now. I think the 3D rotating render is just beautiful, hypnotizing.
As for my proudest moment, it’s probably being named one of Wired’s 101 Signals last year — a list of “the best reporters, writers, and thinkers on the Internet.”
TNW: How difficult was it to come out and reveal your real-life identity last year?
EB: Pretty difficult, initially — I haven’t been that emotional about something in a long time, or since, actually — but thanks to an offer by Android Police to do an interview about it, I think it went over pretty smoothly.
And I think that my history in the industry (at Engadget and Pocketnow) may have even added a bit to my credibility. So kudos, in the the long run, to those who wanted me outed.
TNW: Have companies affected by your leaks ever reacted to them and you directly?
EB: Numerous times, but maybe not as many as some people might suspect. Several of them have been quite public and somewhat publicized, to the point that they probably need not bear repeating here.
TNW: Can you explain how it is that you managed to leak so many products and details with such a high rate of eventual success?
EB: Good sources, good colleagues to bounce ideas off of, and good luck.
TNW: Now that you are out of the phone leaking game, what do you see yourself doing next?
EB: Hopefully, starting to enjoy the phones again. They always tell you to try to make a job out of your hobby — a jobby, if you will. But what they don’t tell you is that, sometimes, the job sucks the fun right out of the hobby after a while. I’d really like to recapture some of the wonder I first felt when smartphones were these amazing new gadgets, pocket computers that could communicate via voice, text, and data in completely configurable and totally unimaginable ways.
TNW: Will you still be tweeting and blogging, or is this goodbye altogether?
EB: The future of the website is an unknown at this point. I’ll keep the Twitter handle as a personal feed for those who are still interested.
Headline image via Pushish Donhongsa / Shutterstock
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