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Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style

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Business 2.0, a magazine where I worked for over three years, is on the rocks. The news, has left me numb, and in an emotional fog full of memories – mostly good, and some bad ones.

It was over four years ago when the real Red Herring shutdown. I was literally the guy to turn off the lights at that magazine’s New York office. What made it worse; it was smack in the middle of World Cup Cricket tournament, a once in four-years kind of an affair that makes everyone from the subcontinent go loco.

A few days after the shutdown, I met with Josh Quittner, editor of Business 2.0, a magazine he was trying to resuscitate and reshape as a magazine for the more pragmatic, post-bust world. Like Red Herring, the original Business 2.0 was an icon of a more gilded, and perhaps a more morally ambiguous time in the history of technology.

It was a cold rainy day, when he offered me a gig, with one condition – come to San Francisco in less than three weeks. I remember it distinctly because it was the day India was playing Pakistan, which is like Yankees and the Red Sox, except with both sides having nukes. I made my choice, packed my bags, and as went west as they say. A day after getting here, I rolled-up my sleeves and went to work.

In the early days, B2.0 had little use for my telecom contacts, or my broadband expertise. The focus was finding stories about technology companies that were making things work, surviving and even thriving. It wasn’t my first choice – I butted heads with Josh, and a bunch of other editors over what was Cosmopolitan-style journalism for the business world.

Six months into the gig, I started appreciating the What Works section, which to me is the heart and soul of the magazine. Lately, there has been less of a focus on that, and more writing about Web 2.0, including me contributing to the noise as a columnist. It made me aware that the service journalism is what creates passionate readers, the kind who would join a Facebook group to try and save the magazine. A Facebook group full of supporters shows that as a magazine Business 2.0 still has readers, in fact more readers than ever before.

In that context, one makes you wonder about the logic of the decision. Time Warner knows how to fold a winning hand, and bet on a sure fire lame duck. AOL anyone? Or Warner Brothers Music? Nevertheless, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that I did some of my best work for Business 2.0, working hard, not because those Time Warner options were going to make me rich, but because I believed in the magazine.

What a fool as I was – in the end it was a business, managed and remotely from a glass cocooned Manhattan tower – where they don’t know a thing about passionate readers, or communities or the fact that their world is no longer theirs. I hope, I never forget this lesson, as I build my little company. As for that Facebook Group – if we close our eyes and clap our hands, maybe Tinkerbell will fly again.

PS: Jim Daly, the founding editor of Business 2.0, before it flamed out and was bought by Time Warner shares his feelings about how much it hurts to see your baby whither away on our sister site, FoundREAD. If it seems all too inside baseball, forgive me, for despite what Owen Thomas says, I am in a blue mood.

37 Responses to “Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style”

  1. “because it was the day India was playing Pakistan, which is like Yankees and the Red Sox, except with both sides having nukes.”

    LOL! Hilarious little tidbit of writing right there, HA!

  2. As a long time reader/fan/subscriber, I would hate to see B2.0 close down. It has been the source of some great ideas for me, and I would love to see it thrive!

    Way too many suits in Fortune!

  3. Om, I renewed/signed up for a multi-year subscription to B2.0 via a link from your article/blog… Within a couple of months, you left and now they are about to shut down…

    Perhaps Phoenix will rise as GigaOm 2.0? :)

  4. I’m pissed! Yes, we have techcrunch, gigaom, etc, but Business 2.0 filled the white space between the INC-types and the Forbes-types, with Fast Company and Wired too random to count on. In every issue, Business 2.0 delivered great 411 for my venture. Remind me to cancel my Time subscription!

  5. It is a sad time. I collect all the magazines (with inc and FastCompany). I hope they will recover.

    If Inc/FastCompany/Wired can live, why can’t Business 2.0?

  6. Sruart Gannes

    Something bigger is going on than crappy TW decisions. The world changed for the better. Thank goodness you followed your gut and did gigaom. You have your group on Facebook.

  7. We were only reading Fast Company anyway. People in this industry are busy. Please don’t launch any more magazines. One is fine. We’ll do the rest of our reading on blogs, etc.

  8. Bummer, this has been a great magazine for years. Sure, print mags don’t offer the immediacy of today’s blogs but they still offer value in the form of great writing and analysis.

  9. Businmess 2.0 is the only magizine I get — its a shame that they are considering shutting it down – even if I don’t have time to read it when it comess out – I save all the issues until I have time to read them — I hope that Business 2.0 survives!

  10. NO! What a shame. Business 2.0 has been my favorite business magazine bar none for a long time. I run an Internet company and I have always been looking forward to the next issue of Business 2.0. This is so sad to see an excellent magazine like this disappear.

  11. A reader

    I loved the last year of Business 2.0. Call me small minded but I thought it was getting good as of late. Paul Sloan’s columns and features were excellent if a little showy. Om’s columns were good but I think his best work has been at Gigaom. Overall I’ll be sad to see it go.

  12. With all do respect, Om, you killed Business 2.0 – I mean, not literally, but as soon as I started subscribing to a few good blogs (like yours) I let my print subscriptions go – why find out the news in 2 months that you can tell me today?

    I’ve also been turned off by how cheesy some of the covers looked (“100 Secrets that the Insiders Don’t Want You to Know!”) – I honestly felt like I was holding some MLM propoganda or something on the plane.

  13. That is unfortunate. But as you say, in the end it is a business. They seem to have seen their ad dollars shrink in recent years in spite of a healthy circulation. Not sure why someone would not just buy them and their over half million paid subscribers.

  14. Hope Biz 2.0 survives and doesn’t become the next Industry Standard & Red Herring. I need to read more than Fast Company when I’m at B&N. It’d be nice if Google can shape up and start using Print Ads on magazines.