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Media Shuffles

Posted on Sunday, Oct 8th 2006

On September 28 & 29, 2006, Heather Green & Stephen Baker reported that Business Week is having difficulties.

During the AlwaysOn Network’s OnHollywood 2006 conference in May, media entrepreneur Tony Perkins noted that 62% of online content viewed by 21-year-olds is generated by someone they know. Perhaps, this trend is what has caused Perkins to turn his network into a MySpace like content publishing and sharing platform where users can participate not just as readers, but as writers. As a matter of fact, Perkins has reached beyond his original technology readership to try to embrace a bigger demographic, and rebranded his network as GoingOn. [They have huge kinks in the software at the moment, but hopefully this will get sorted out.]

On the other hand, solo bloggers Michael Arrington, Om Malik, and Rafat Ali have raised venture capital, expanded their shops, hired a few people, and have started scaling their media properties to shoot up to the top of online media lists.

All of them, however, have fundamental business questions to ponder. Business Week’s issue is survival. The bloggers’ issue is scaling.

Perkins, perhaps, has the most important experiment under way, that all of them need to watch and learn from: how deeply should they embrace social media and user-generated content? If BusinessWeek, WSJ, NYT, Om, Michael, Rafat could each roll-out their own user-generated content networks such as GoingOn, that may well be one way to scale efficiently and profitably.

If Perkins’ experiment works, it will, potentially, create a viable model for the entire media industry to organize itself, reinvent, and survive. It is not a slam-dunk, the biggest challenge being the ability to balance quality versus quantity.

Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile experiment, and Business Week should also try it!

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Sramana
You are assuming that there’s only one way to scale…there are some old-fashioned ways in which still work. I will leave it at that because then we will be disclosing our plans too early.

Rafat Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 7:32 PM PT

Hi Rafat,
You can scale up to a point by hiring more people to generate more content and expand your coverage area. Yes, that scales, but the profitability of that model is questionnable.
Also, you guys – you, Om, Michael, Battelle – can combine your companies, assemble a few others, and scale that way.
These are two old fashioned ways that I can think of, right off the bat.
I’m sure you will think of others.
Sramana

Sramana Mitra Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 7:40 PM PT

Sramana,

I think categorizing GoingOn Networks with Rafat, Om, and Michael is a mistake. Those are excellent media ventures that are changing the landscape and have changed my reading habits since read PaidContent.org, GigaOm, TechCrunch, and CNET News.com everyday versus CNET News.com, CNN, and a couple others I don’t remember for my daily tech news from years ago.

GoingOn is a platform provider for not just media companies like Tony’s AlwaysOn, but for companies and organizations to communicate and connect with their customers and membership base. We don’t compete in any manner with Rafat and others. We compete with companies such as Five Across, iUpload, and Pluck.

Bernard Moon Monday, October 9, 2006 at 4:52 PM PT

Hi Bernard,

The issue in question is not whom GoingOn competes with. The issue is whether other media players ought to start providing content networks such as GoingOn, Five Across, iUpload, and Pluck, to stimulate user-generated content, and hence, leveraging their communities to scale their own ventures profitably. And in the case of Business Week, to survive.

Sramana

Sramana Mitra Monday, October 9, 2006 at 5:07 PM PT

I understand your premise, but your description and language above is a bit confusing. GoingOn wasn’t a “rebrand” of AlwaysOn, but a completely separate entity where AlwayOn is a customer of GoingOn. So GoingOn, Five Across, and others are not “content networks” but platform providers. Hence media companies can choose to use any one of these (hopefully us:), which a few of them have already, and don’t have to built out their own networks. It would actually be cheaper in most cases for them to use GoingOn 🙂

Bernard Moon Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 2:22 AM PT

Alright, Bernard. I stand corrected. “Content Platforms”, not “Content Networks”.

I did get a call yesterday from Mike O’Donnell, CEO of Five Across, explaining that they are in discussions with a number of the large media companies as well, to enable their user-generated content strategy.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 11:05 AM PT

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