Backfence Aquires Bayosphere

Backfence is acquiring Bayosphere, the community journalism site co-founded by Dan Gillmor, and will use it as the launchpad for an expansion to San Francisco. Gillmor, whose decision to head the Center for Citizen Media late last year signaled an end to Bayosphere as envisioned, will not be involved in the business but will continue to blog on technology and Bay Area matters for Backfence’s San Francisco operations.
According to Backfence, Bayosphere has close to 100,000 unique visitors a monh; still, as Gillmor has acknowleged, the site never took off. He has been trying for months to find a resolution that would sustain the siate in some form. “This helps to continue something that some folks have found valuable even though it will change,” he told me by phone this afternoon.
Backfence will move the existing site to the Backfence banner today and plans five hyper-local Bay Area sites, starting with Palo Alto in May.
Mark Potts and Susan DeFife launched Backfence in two Virginia locations last May and have since added hyperlocals in Virginia and Maryland. In some respects, it’s a natural fit even though Gillmor and Backfence took different approaches to citizens’ media. Both received funding from Omidyar Network; Bayosphere also had funding from MItch Kapor. No details on terms but don’t think big.
— In related news, Backfence is adding Merrill Brown to its board of directors. Brown
has been on the Backfence Advisory Board and is on Gillmor’s think-tank advisory board.
Update:
Bayosphere.com isn’t redirecting but Bay Area Backfence is up with an inaugural post from Gillmor: “My business partner, Michael Goff, and I made the decision with our investors. We all agreed that this was the best possible outcome of several alternatives…. The new site will reflect Backfence’s hyperlocal style much more than mine, though as noted I’ll continue to blog here and do everything I can to make this transition a smooth one.”
Also a post from Backfence founders Potts and DeFife with details about the expansion: “A local team will organize and manage the Bay Area Backfence sites, so you can be assured that Backfence truly will be local. And you will help us determine which communities will follow Palo Alto.”
A FAQ offers some insight in tol the complications of a move like this: Bayosphere users will have to register again to participate in Backfence.
Related: Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere: Backing, High Profile Doesn’t Guarantee Success

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