Interviews

Beyond the Valley: A Q&A with the FT's West Coast Editor Richard Waters

To better understand what differentiates the Financial Times’ tech coverage from our competitors’, we spoke to West Coast Editor Richard Waters, who leads a team of writers focused on tech in Silicon Valley and beyond.

We asked Richard about our editorial strengths, the importance of FT’s global reach, and why investors should have a growing interest in Asian tech.

What role does the FT fulfill in the US media market, and what differentiates the FT’s tech coverage when compared to other sources like the Wall Street Journal?

I think where we fit in the US media market is bringing information that people wouldn’t normally have access to. A perfect example of this is our coverage on China. We have more people on the ground in China than any other mainstream media source. We also bring a different perspective and broader stories where if you were to read only US outlets, you wouldn’t get the full picture. 

The second thing I always think we do is when we write about the US and the US industry we're doing it with an awareness of how it fits into a bigger context. Because our writers and editors have spent time in other markets, they have a wider understanding of the industry than people who have only worked in one place. 

We have more people on the ground in China than any other mainstream media source. We also bring a different perspective and broader stories where if you were to read only US outlets, you wouldn’t get the full picture.

Richard WatersWest Coast editor

In your opinion, why is it valuable for teams (not just individual decision-makers) to have access to our tech coverage? 

The way I’d put it is that any organization that has customers, investors or other stakeholders needs to somehow instill a broader understanding in its entire workforce. In modern business, it is generally accepted now that people at all levels in a company need a good understanding of what a company is doing and why it’s doing it. 

Our belief is that all members of an organization need an awareness of the context in which they’re working and the impact their technology is having. We help to give people that understanding and perspective that helps them fit what they are doing into the world. 

What would you say to those who are under the assumption that the FT is simply a European-focused financial paper?

I would say that our tech coverage is one area where we really aren't European-focused because European tech industries aren't leading. We're on the ground in the US and China because at the moment, this is where we think the biggest markets are and most of the innovation is happening. We're very much focused on that intersection between business, finance, politics, economics and policy.

Our coverage is aimed at people in various industries, government and areas where there is a need for a fairly broad understanding of the impact of technology on their own spheres of influence. 

Our belief is that all members of an organization need an awareness of the context in which they’re working and the impact their technology is having.

Richard WatersWest Coast editor

The FT recently launched Tech Scroll Asia, a weekly newsletter covering technology trends in Asia. Is there anything similar available to the US market and what’s its relevance to both Silicon Valley and the US tech industry as a whole?

I'm not aware of anything quite like it. It's definitely an important focus. We've seen a lot of dynamism coming out of Asia and people here are kind of realizing they need to understand these markets from a technology perspective much better than they had in the past. People in the US are surprised when they discover the Chinese are way ahead in mobile payments and the way they use some of the technologies. 

Particularly now, with the economic decoupling that’s going on between the US and China, we see the US consciously pulling away or cutting itself off from China in technology terms. I think what's going to happen is that the competition is going to become much more intense, and it will become even more important to understand what's happening on the other side of the world. 

Ensure you and your teams are gaining a full global perspective on technology and its impact.

Access the FT’s full suite of tech newsletters#techFT, #fintechFT and Tech Scroll Asiahere.

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