This is my last column as a newspaper writer. After five years at the Mercury News and 20 years in newspapers and magazines, I'm leaving...

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This is my last column as a newspaper writer. After five years at the Mercury News and 20 years in newspapers and magazines, I’m leaving the old media for the new. I’m off to a new job at VentureBeat, a blogging Web site created by my former Mercury News colleague Matt Marshall.

Having spent 13 years watching Silicon Valley luminaries take risks, it’s time for me to join a startup. That’s what this valley is all about. Change. Starting anew. Reinventing. There are many entrepreneurs I have written about who have inspired me to move along.

Just a year ago, I wrote about Cullen’s abc’s, a video Web site aimed at teaching parents fun activities to do with preschool-age children. Started by preschool teacher Cullen Wood and her husband, Steve, the San Jose company has uploaded more than 300 videos to YouTube.

They’ve been viewed more than a million times, and the couple is moving on to make a profit from the venture.

That’s the great hope and beauty of the Internet. While it can threaten existing businesses, it can also be our friend. It allows us to create something from nothing but our own talent.

Beginning to blog

I started blogging with my colleague, Mike Antonucci, in May 2005 at the E3 video-game industry show. Then I started the Tech Talk blog at the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of 2006.

Even as I wrote for the newspaper, I had more fun writing thousands of blog posts where the readers could offer their immediate feedback.

That close back-and-forth communication was addictive, and I thank the readers who came back to talk again and again.

As with any startup, I have no idea if this is going to succeed. It’s a roll of the dice. Now that I know the feeling of sailing off into uncertainty, I have more admiration for the people who have taken such risks over and over again. I am not going to be sitting on the sidelines. I’m going to be a participant in creating something new.

Fond memories

I wish my colleagues at the newspaper great success. They have a tough challenge in crossing the bridge from the newspaper age to the digital age. Journalism is changing, and we don’t know where it will settle.

I have a lot of fond memories working closely with my colleagues on the big stories in Silicon Valley.

We covered the rise and fall of Carly Fiorina, the rise of China, rebate scams in our own backyard, the fine cuisine of Google’s cafeteria, Facebook’s rapid growth and the mesmerizing keynote speeches of Steve Jobs where the audience goes “ooohhh and ahhhh” right on cue.

I also had a lot of fun writing about new gadgets and listening to the feedback of readers who thought I was inept. But the most fun for me was discovering hot new startups and technologies and writing about the personalities behind them. I’ll continue to do that, but the output will be in another place.

The great advantage this newspaper will always have, which the Internet will never take away, is its sense of place. It is the hometown newspaper.

I hope readers will continue to be involved in the newspaper and help it steer a course. If the newspaper keeps the readers front and center, then I have to believe it will stay relevant, the same way radio has kept alive in the face of innovations such as TV, satellite radio and the Internet.

I want to thank my colleagues and bosses for giving me this platform. And thank you for reading.

Dean Takahashi wrote

a technology column

for San Jose Mercury News.