Mocking the World since 2003

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Blog Drama: Episode 3 

Today's episode of The Blog and the Beautiful again surrounds Gawker, the Shannon Doherty of the blogosphere. Nick Denton, the publisher of Gawker, Wonkette, and Gizmodo is most certainly the king of blogging-for-profit, but Jason Calacanis, the founder of Weblogs, Inc. is slowly inching his way up. He recently snatched Gizmodo's editor, Peter Rojas, to write for Engadget. The drama of all this was played out in a New York Magazine article this week by Alex Mar. Let's see what happened:

Excerpts from New York Magazine (via Buzzmachine):
Gawker's Stalker. Can Jason Calacanis challenge Nick Denton's blog kingdom? Either way, he'll pay for it.

Calacanis-the former Silicon Alley Reporter guru turned "talent advocate"-declares, "You can't say 'Work with me for as little as possible; I'll build a valuable brand you won't have a share in.' Nick wants to won all of it, so his writers are leaving..."

To hear Calacanis tell it, as popular blogs increase in value, investors can afford to commit to their writers. "Daily Candy sold for $3.5 million to $4 million," he explains. "Within five years, the top blogs will become worth as much as $5 million." By having rising-star writers in place, Weblogs, Inc., Would be able to focus on expanding its current lineup of 25 blogs to a whopping 500 by late 2006.

Denton, however, maintains that "no one's going to get rich off blogging any time soon," and defends his revolving-door policy as par for the course. "You pick the right writer, and they eventually leave-just as with mainstream publications," he says. "Blogs have become a terrific way to build a profile and then move on." Presumably, he isn't surprised that ultracatty Gawker.com editor Choire Sicha seems to be distancing himself from the site, now describing himself in print as a writer for the Observer. "I'm in an awkward position," stuttered Sicha.
As Seen on Nick Denton:
Nano wars

I was, as they say back home, royally shafted. That's just like shafted, only worse. For those of you who doesn't follow every navel-gazing twist and turn of the blog world, Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., a rival, poached one of Gawker Media's writers, Pete Rojas of Gizmodo.

Sure, we recovered quickly. Joel Johnson, who was going to write another upcoming site, stepped in. And traffic has rebounded, though those readers may simply be enthralled by the spectacle of an online car crash happening in real time.

But the fact remains that I was caught unawares. I was in Brazil, my mind on other things. Before Pete gave his notice, he and Calacanis already had a slick copycat site -- Engadget -- ready to go. The shafting will be complete, today, with an artfully-placed item in New York Magazine, in which Calacanis boasts of his plans for 500 blogs. Round One to Calacanis. On to Round Two.

Is there any broader meaning to all this? Well, I have just one tentative conclusion. Blogs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I've always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses.

Pete will feverishly work night and day on his new site. We'll bring in guest stars, and spice up Gizmodo. Maybe we'll bid against each other, as if it were 1999 all over again, to become anchor tenant of AOL's tech section. (That was a joke... I hope.)

There's an important consolation. Competition between pro blogs may destroy their potential for profit, but the struggle will be excellent for readers. Gizmodo and Engadget will keep each other alert and honest. They'll compete for scoops. Pete, usually so serious, may even loosen up and try a little humor. Gizmodo will run gadget pinups. We'll all check the Sitemeter traffic stats like coked-up day-traders. It's the beginning of the nano wars: enjoy the show.
As Seen on Weblogs Inc.:
Gawker's Stalker, Rising Blog Kingdoms & the talented Mr. Rojas(part deux)

So, it's been a bit of a crazy day for me with the New York Magazine story (click here for the image), Nick Denton's respones and about three dozen voicemails from folks who want to blog (including a militia-I kid you not).

To be totally honest I'm burnt out on the Denton vs. Calacanis, who won what round, etc. The bottom lineis Nick is going to be wildly successful with his gaggle of blog, and I think WIN and Engadget will be wildly successful. Nothing would please me more then to see Denton get rewarded for all his hard work with Gawker Media, and if he is successful that meands that blogging is legit (as we all know), and that is a good thing for me, Brian and Peter ( and probably you too if you're a blogger).

OK, group hugs everyone - now back to work.
Wait? What the hell? Is Calacanis going to try to bury the hatchet? But what will I use for soap opera drama when The OC isn't on? Keep fighting guys! For me!

Related Posts:
Ooh, Ooh, Blog Drama! Fun!
Blog Drama Gets Even More Funnier

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