Interesting blog commentary and reporting out there recently involving Gawker Media and Weblogs, Inc. — networks started by Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis that share a famous rivalry. The upshot? How both of these early movers in blog network business models are suffering old-media growing pains. It’s an art-imitating-life moment.
Valleywag, a Gawker Media blog, is reporting that AOL, which bought Calacanis’ Weblogs Inc. in 2005 as the first major blog M&A transaction for an estimated $25 million, is shutting down a collection of its smaller blog sites to focus attention on bigger revenue bread-winners like Engadget, Autoblog and Joystiq. Calacanis points out in a comment reply to the Valleywag post that “Niche blogs are great, but when you’re running a scale business like AOL is you’re better off focusing on your HUGE winners like Autoblog, Engadget, Joystiq, etc.” Sound familiar?
As for Denton’s Gawker Media, its namesake blog recently shuffled top editors as outgoing Chris Mohney will end his six-month tenure to be replaced by a returning Choire Sicha, who ran the site three years ago. In a Wall Street Journal Online story, Denton points out that, in some ways, his growing new media company is very much like an old media company. “Gawker Media is increasingly like a mainstream media company, where writers are reassigned, or leave the company, stay in the orbit and return, later.”