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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Play Magazine Editor

Here he is, here's the competition. He's even into the ludic dimension. Maybe we should show him some naked Bonobos at play. Actually the interesting thing is just how much interest some people are taking in weblogging these days. ( Here's another example of this). What I don't see is how their idea of 'business model' is going to play out. This is going to be an interesting match. He's certainly right: blogging is very inexpensive: especially when there is virtually no physical infrastructure, and people do it for free. Puts a whole new meaning on 'lean and mean'. (Actually I'm neither). As I was saying a couple of days ago, what seems to be going on is the elimination of space as a communicational coordinate. This is going to play havoc with our sense of identity. Meanwhile the last round of innovators: Yahoo, Salon etc have got problems. They have buildings to pay for. They need to thin down a bit. They don't have on-the-street correspondants either. Bloggers, of course, are everywhere: even in Baghdad. So battle of the titans: let it role. At least the guy's British. Where the hell are the Americans? (This question is not a rhetorical one. It is dead serious, and will be answered in a subsequent post. Meanwhile a hint. I think there is a problem in US blogging: the ideological divide).

Mr. Denton, a British entrepreneur and self-styled "play magazine editor," is trying to turn blogging - once only the province of hobbyists - into a profitable, ad-supported business. But Gawker Media is not exactly gushing cash just yet.

Mr. Denton says his blogs, which also include a gadget site called Gizmodo, "are businesses with, at least for the moment, the turnover of a lemonade stand." He says each site brings in several thousand dollars a month in revenue.

But that may be just the beginning. Mr. Denton is planning to roll out a dozen more blogs in the next year, though he insists he is in no rush, and does not expect, to turn his lemonade stand into a money machine overnight. He is a 1990's dot-com millionaire who sold an events company called First Tuesday, which brought together entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at gatherings, right before the bursting of the bubble. "I'm kind of embarrassed," he said. "All this blogging is kind of paid for by the cocktail parties of the boom."

But all his blogging is catching the attention of millions of visitors a month and, increasingly, the interests of venture capitalists and New York's media elite - despite Mr. Denton's best efforts to at least feign a desire to remain under the radar. (At first he said he did not want to be interviewed for this article, and when Gawker was mentioned in passing in this newspaper and also in New York magazine earlier this month, the site declared, "Gawker: So Totally Over.")

"When I first met Nick, he showed me this amazing new thing he called blogging," said Jeff Jarvis, president and creative director of Advance.net, the online arm of Advance Publications. "I frankly had no idea what he was showing me. Only later did I understand the significance of this: Tying history's easiest, cheapest publishing tool to history's best distribution network, the Internet, would have tremendous impact on media."

Mr. Jarvis, who invested Advance Publications' money in Moreover Technologies, another company started by Mr. Denton, added: "He recognized that what sets Web logging apart from other media is only how incredibly inexpensive it is."
Source: New York Times

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