Interview: David Bank

David Bank is taking a break from Microsoft.

David Bank is taking a break from Microsoft.

Since 1996, he has covered the software goliath for The Wall Street Journal, including writing the book Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft. Now Bank, who has also written for the San Jose Mercury News, Wired, and Newsweek, finds himself in Silicon Valley covering pretty much every software company around - except Microsoft.

PRWeek: Is the tone of technology journalism changing? Is it becoming more assertive and more aggressive?

David Bank: I did a piece recently with the headline "The Revolt of the Corporate Customer." It was about how pissed off technology customers are at their suppliers. It was surprising to hear how vocal customers were about how little they're getting in maintenance support and the quality of what they're buying. All this discontent is bubbling up more than it did in the boom days. People learned a lot through the downturn. So there's a more critical bent toward technology, and I think that's being represented in the press. Some of the new companies we're seeing are predicated on responding to some of these needs that aren't being met.

PRWeek: What are you looking for in a story these days?

Bank: I cover mostly enterprise software. It's hard to write about these products in a way people can understand. The only way to approach it is from the way customers use the products and if the products meet their needs. And software companies are starting to grasp that. They've learned to serve up the reference customer. So we get a better sense of how this technology is being used. It used to be that you couldn't get customer references easily - now it's served on a platter. But it's about following the money and seeing how customers spend money on technology, how they use [it], and if it's solving their problems.

PRWeek: What do you feel distinguishes your coverage, and The Wall Street Journal's coverage, of technology?

Bank: We tend to look at technology as a trend or [at] its ability to solve a problem. Some- times the problem is more interesting than the solution. Take Sarbanes-Oxley. It's creating a huge headache for companies. But the huge headache it's creating is more interesting than writing about another company with compliance software on the market. We want to know what is the general problem and the challenges companies face in solving that problem. PR people have been responsive to what we try to do. We use and abuse PR people, and they just come back for more. And of course we're interested in news and exclusives. But more generally, we really try to nail these trends.

PRWeek: What do you see as the big stories happening this year?

Bank: There's the ongoing consolidation stories. And that sets up "battle of the titans" stories. And I see security continuing to be a huge story for the coming year. We're seeing these stories about identity theft and credit-card fraud. And as people look more closely at their security needs, they're realizing that they are depending on technology that is not as secure as they thought.

Name: David Bank

Publication: The Wall Street Journal

Title: Staff reporter

Preferred contact method: david.bank@wsj.com

Website: www.wsj.com www.wsj.com.

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