Best emerging Web empire - 2006
For all you suckers who think you have to ditch your responsibilities and move to a monk's cell in order to realize your dreams, consider the case of "Jon Brownstoner." The lonely force behind Brownstoner Media has started four websites since October 2004, two of them indispensable to Brooklyn. Meanwhile, he's been holding down a job in the canyons of New York finance and sharing in the raising of his two small kids. Sleep? Ha. Sleep is for people who don't know how to set up a new-media venture. Sometime next year, he hopes to become self-employed, on his own terms. For now, he can't reveal his identity for fear of getting fired. So he just keeps working on his projects whenever and however he can. The earliest and oldest of his websites, brownstoner.com, draws 60,000 unique visitors a month with its mixture of news and debate on real estate developments, neighborhood issues, and renovations. The latest, the news blog brooklynrecord.com, kicked off in April with a paid employee; its monthly draw is now about 20,000 readers. Along the way, he launched a Wall Street blog, underthecounter.net, and he unleashed the full cattiness of real estate agents with the now much curtailed brokerate.com. Brownstoner says he's been surprised by the range of people cruising through his flagship sites, just as he was surprised by the viciousness of the brokers. "I overestimated the human spirit," he says. Don't underestimate him, though; watch for this guy to go big in 2007.