Dear Kathy Yakal

The current print edition of Barron’s includes Kathy Yakal’s last column for The Electronic Investor, entitled “Dragging Edgar into the 21st Century.” The tag on the end of the column, which says, “Editor’s Note: This is Kathy Yakal’s final Electronic Investor column for Barron’s after 11 years,” just isn’t enough of a tribute to her fine work.

I’ve known Kathy for a long time—well before we both started writing for Barron’s. She has been the grande dame of financial technology reviews at PC Magazine for about 20 years; I covered similar topics for other Ziff publications.  I was lucky enough to have the first EI column, back in March of 1995; at the beginning of its run, EI was a once-a-month guest in the publication. 

Then in mid-1996, following our first review of online brokers in early May, the powers-that-be at Barron’s decided to double the production of the column.  They asked me for suggestions of other writers who could pitch in, and I could only think of one person:  Kathy.  Fortunately, she accepted the Barron’s challenge, and became my tag-team partner in providing content for the publication. 

EI went to weekly a few years later, so Kathy and I have been trading off the byline since then.  It’s been a great rhythm, and I’ve always enjoyed reading her columns.  She is such a professional and I’ve learned a lot from her approach to her work.

I suppose that, technically, we are competitors—but I never felt that way about her work.  There are a handful of other folks who cover the financial technology realm, but (especially in the 90s) few of them understand the issues as well as Kathy does—and frankly, most of the others republish large quantities of rewritten press releases.  What I have always appreciated about Kathy’s work, and what she has given to me, is an intense hands-on perspective, based on years of experience covering the industry.

What has also been fun is hanging around with her at various trade shows.  The main reason I miss attending Comdex is the opportunity to get in trouble with Kathy in Vegas.  Hey, it’s true—what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  ‘Nuff said.  Our last get-together was in Nashville.  It’s been too long. 

Kathy is still around, but will be writing marcom materials for a major software publisher, which generates enough conflict of interest that she can’t do reviews for the various publications any more.  I will miss her intelligent, critical voice more than I can say.

Posted by on 07/03 at 10:45 AM

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