Shiny Co-Founder Norris Starts Rival Men’s Publisher Anorak

Ashley Norris, the journalist who tried to make a British variant of US blog publisher Gawker with his Shiny Media publishing company, is having another go. Norris has become CEO of Anorak Publishing, a new content company formed on the back of irreverent news site Anorak but which now plans to publish up to six sites in a bid to enter the men’s content vertical (release).

The first new (ish) launch through the addition of Anorak Publishing will be PopJunkie, a weekly music vidcast that is growing in to a proper site. Cars and sport blogs will follow with more later next year, Norris told paidContent:UK. A small amount of funding has gone in but, “in keeping with the spirit of the times, we are keeping things lean for the time being”, Norris said.

Shiny Media is best known for its eponymous Shiny Shiny (girly gadgets), Tech Digest (technology) and Shoewawa (footwear) blogs. Norris and co-founders Chris Price and Katie Lee sold half the company for $4.5 million last year to new VC Brightstation, then Norris left Shiny after five years in August, citing too little traffic, too few advertisers and the impact of the BBC. He told paidContent:UK he had a video startup idea but, with Anorak’s Sorene tapping Norris to do what, at least on the surface, looks like a very similar model to Shiny, it looks like he is having another crack at the whip, aiming to make Anorak in to “a major player in British online media”.

Can he do it? Small UK blog publishers have so far failed to replicate Gawker founder Nick Denton’s US success (and he’s now feeling the pinch on ads, too) – borne out not just by Shiny’s closure Norris’ departure from Shiny but also the closure of MessyMedia and Mink Media, which tried the same thing. Now the big guys are at it, too; AOL is starting blog-powered niche content sites over here – most notably, men’s site Asylum. But the existence of multiple gadget sites shows there’s still room for competitors, and there still may be prizes left for those who can cover emerging verticals better than others.

Anorak founder Paul Sorene, a freelance journalist, has previously done content work for various online publishers, including writing Shiny’s now-defunct finance blog Kerching. The main site offers commentary on media and tabloid news and apes The Register with a red-top approach, though Sorene says it has been relaunched with a new design and claims inspiration from Salon, Drudge and Instapundit.

(Photo: Library House)

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