22 Comments

Summary:

[qi:076] Fred Wilson this morning laments how TechMeme, a site that tracks the world of tech blogs, is changing. “I still go to it every day to take the temperature of the tech blog scene, but I don’t see my friends on it so much anymore,” […]

[qi:076] Fred Wilson this morning laments how TechMeme, a site that tracks the world of tech blogs, is changing. “I still go to it every day to take the temperature of the tech blog scene, but I don’t see my friends on it so much anymore,” he writes. I know how you feel, Fred, but then the blog cosmos is ever changing, as new voices emerge on an almost daily basis.

Still, there is one point he made that needs to be addressed.

The other thing that has changed is that many of the blogs I “grew up” with are not individual blogs anymore. Rafat has a team, Arrington has a team, Om has a team. They are much better at putting out a stream of blog posts all day long, but they aren’t the same thing as Mike and Om blogging along with me. And you can’t compete with an army of bloggers on the techmeme leaderboard.

What Fred says is certainly true. I have a team, and they all work hard and create great content on a daily basis, and that’s what you would expect from a startup whose main business is content. However, his assessment isn’t 100 percent on the mark.

Like Fred, most people presume that because I have a team, I don’t personally blog as much. Take this month, for example. So far, we have published 82 posts on GigaOM.com, of which 60 were written by me. That’s roughly 74 percent of the total posts published on my blog. It works out to about four posts a day (given I don’t work on weekends).

What I have are domain experts on topics for which my knowledge is simply not up to snuff. Gaming, for instance, where I defer to Jane and Wagner, or Web 2.0 strategies, which are tracked by Anne. There are some guest columns, of course. But the blogger is like a solo performer: a cellist, for example, who brings in a pianist and a violinist to add more flavor to the performance. Turn it into a 40-piece orchestra and yes, the performance loses some of its intimacy.

That is what we have been trying to avoid, and why we have chosen to build separate brands around GigaOM — and keep GigaOM as close to its roots as possible. Building new brands like NewTeeVee, WebWorkerDaily, FoundRead and Earth2Tech is a challenge, but in the long run it is a better strategy. It addresses the very questions Fred brings up. The GigaOM community continues to get what they expect (most of the time.) After all, isn’t that precisely why I left my job to start this company?

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  1. Techcrunch, Mashable, Gigaom, Uncov

    Yeah, I’m on a roll…I’m bored and had a lot to spew. Lemme get it out and I’ll stop for a couple weeks.
    But I really wish there was a good place to get unbiased news/reviews/updates about new sites.
    Techcrunch was bought long ag…

  2. Hey dude, i don’t think i ever did much of new sites or reviews. i basically try and do stuff which works for me, and i can give you an informed opinion. of course that is not what folks are looking for.

  3. Scott Raynovich Monday, November 19, 2007

    Om,

    It’s true that the nature of many bloggers has gone from educational to commercial, and I think you as a publisher will increasingly have to address this. What you’ve done is akin to the guy that once had a great NYC hot-dog cart who has scaled up to a national franchiser of many hot-dog shops (let’s call them Om blog-weiners). good job.

    so I’m asking… how do we know the hot dogs in Boise will be the same in Texas?

    I wonder — knowing what I know about this business and having been around the block — has the commercial blogger community given any thought as to what impact the commercialization has had on the medium? Or what might happen, now that bloggers have “lost their virginity” though the temptations of VC capital, of what can happen to their newly commercial enterprises if a braod recession comes to the media? For example, VCs could clamp down and exert pressure on them to change their model and the character of their blog. Or, they might not be able to add the staff they thought. It seems to me that many bloggers, having not lived through a nasty downturn, are ill-prepared for that event, which looks more likely to come every day (just check the share prices of i-banks). Hey Om, you were at the orginal Red Herring, you know what I’m talking about!!! Maybe I’ve just become paranoid, like a depression era grandpa. But it seems lots of us have already forgotten the dark days of 2000/2001.

    I ask this not to be snide, but to point to the some of the potential fallout of commercialization to “good ‘ole” bloggersville when, and if, this bubble-phase burns off. There is a certain amount of freedom excercised by the “guy writing in his underwear during night-time hours” that is lost when bloogers try to make it a business. I think many bloggers are denying the nature of change to their blogs brought about commercial development, and the challenges of trying to scale the model (i.e. saddled with higher costs and a tighter environment, and with founders taking more active roles in “business,” blogging actually becomes more difficult).

    Any thoughts on what will happen and how the blogging community is prepared for difficult scenarios? I ask as a loyal reader who’s hoping his favorite hot dog franchise has a grand plan, because I like the food.

    –Scott

  4. Good response OM. I like how you’re candid on the business side of it and I really like how you take the best of blogging – the voice and the dialog. Blogging form in a media company structure.

  5. Thanks John, appreciate the kind words here.

  6. Comparing techcrunch, valleywag with gigaom is not a fair deal. I visit all these websites. To me, what stands out in gigaom is- Om always tries to be honest in his articles and clearly has a very good knowledge about what ever he talks. I guess his journalism experience is helping him with that.

    @Scott,
    Great points. Often, at times, even I wonder how you can run a media company with honesty that has investors who have vested interest in different startups. Not sure how do u handle the GAG. Bottom Line- It boils down to selling your soul or selling your vision to the investors. The latter is what shall standout in a long run. Users like me visit gigaom or other sites for honest opinion’s rather than some PR crap or BS.

  7. Scott,

    I guess most of it is how you are made. I have been in the same position before, though as an employee. Have I forgotten those lessons from Red Herring? I don’t think so, and which is why we run a lean operation here.

    Basically what we are trying to do is stay true to our work, which is blogging. I think if you look at our business, we are scaling the business side of the operation which works independently.

    Unlike the last bubble, the VC money is being used to built a cadre of talented writers/bloggers. There are no plush offices or big parties.

    The bubble phase of blogs as you mention it is the reason your current employer is building a network of blogs, or do they actually believe that it is a new media form?

    I think only time will be the judge of how we do, and our readership will be the scorecard.

    Thanks for asking though.

  8. Scott Raynovich Monday, November 19, 2007

    RE: my “current employer.” Hmm, I suppose you are referring to United Business Media, or CMP, or my boss.. whichever it is, nothing’s changed here at LR, we are paid to create great content. Whether it’s a blog of webinar it doesn’t matter, it’s still content. I see a blog as a new “flavor” of standard journalistic content.

    As far as the business of blogging, it’s all about how the traffic is monitized. I’ve written about this at lenght over on Internet Evolution (www.internetevolution.com.) But basically, Light Reading monetizes traffic differently than the average blog network. If I told you all the secrets I’d have to kill you, but the bottom line is: avoid debasing your product with low CPM consumer ad networks at all costs. That’s my advice.

  9. I understand that most of what gets on this blog is written by you Om and I understand why that makes your blog a bit different.

    But it’s also true that the flavor of a commercial blog is different than a hobby blog. And your blog and Arrington’s and Rafat’s all started out as hobby blogs.

    You gain something when you go pro, but you lose something too.

    Fred

  10. Help me push this post up Techmeme – – mathewingram.com/work Monday, November 19, 2007

    [...] think Fred makes a good point about the site drawing more from other places — places that aren’t really blogs in the strict sense, in that they aren’t written by a single individual. But is that a bad [...]

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