When you are introduced to new Web products and businesses every day, as we are here at TechCrunch, it is difficult not to get the startup itch. Mark Hendrickson, who has been with TechCrunch as a writer and Web developer for nearly two years, has decided to scratch that itch and build his own Web service. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it will combine location with social discovery, will have “lots of maps,” and will work with Facebook Connect. It will be a while before he is ready to launch it, but if you are curious you can sign up for the waiting list to receive an invite. Or you can follow him on Twitter.
Mark has been a key member of TechCrunch, and he will be sorely missed. Most of our readers know him primarily as one of our more analytical writers. His first post was a side-by-side comparison of different DIY social networks, he’s been a key chronicler of changes at Facebook, and helped us realize that Hulu doesn’t suck.
But beyond writing great posts, Mark is one of the people who has kept TechCrunch humming behind the scenes. Michael and I kept trying to get him to write—and we squeezed 569 posts out of him—but really all Mark wanted to do was Web development. From TechCrunch to CrunchBase to Elevator Pitches, Mark’s hand has touched practically every Web property we operate.
Mark recently redesigned not only the TechCrunch site, but all of the other blogs in the network as well. He made our site search one of the first to be powered by Yahoo Boss. Then he added Facebook Connect as a sign-in option for comments. He also just finished up FriendFeed integration in comments (whenever someone says something about a TechCrunch post on FriendFeed, it becomes a comment under the post, which I guess we never announced until now).
As if he didn’t have enough to do, whenever Michael or I needed some fast research, a poignant image, or an instant post when news was breaking, Mark was always ready at his laptop to do whatever was necessary. In fact, Mark’s calm under pressure has already earned him a place in the Web’s pop culture. For some reason, Loren Feldman of 1938Media is obsessed with him. (And I don’t think it is because of Mark’s dancing skills). Many of Feldman’s videos about TechCrunch (see example below) routinely feature a Michael Arrington puppet screaming off-camera: “Hendrickson! You’d better get that post up!” Mark, we are gonna miss you.
Update: Mark lays out his initial thinking about his startup here in a new blog post.