Blogbiz: Bubble boy or baron?

Blogbiz: Bubble boy or baron?

: Jason Calacanis, late of the late Silicon Alley Reporter, has announced the start of his weblog company.

Nick Denton has already tried to burst Jason’s bubble:

Jason Calacanis, founder of Silicon Alley Reporter and boomtime hype-merchant, has re-emerged as a blog booster. God help us…. Calacanis is a smart and engaging guy, and I’m a believer in web media, but the last thing the world needs now is his brand of late 90s enthusiasm.

But rather than trying to hype weblogs, Calacanis is trying to dehype big media and thus look bigger in comparison. In this worldview, there’s zero-sum hot air and one must deflate the other guy’s bubble to inflate one’s own.

On my comments, below, Calacanis argues that big media can’t really do blogs; it’s an either-or, he says:

At a certain point a weblog stops being a weblog and starts becoming a newspaper, or perhaps more accurately a newswire. I think fact-checking and editing is one of those points.

Now, the public has an expectation that weblogs are unedited so they can be frequently updated, and that because of this dynamic sometimes there are errors on weblogs….

Now, the public has the *exact* opposite expectation of newspapers….

If publications like the NYT get into blogging they are going to confuse users—at least for a while. However, users are very smart and if the NYT put a disclaimer at the top explaining about what is going on… then there would be no issue….

He comes around grudgingly. But you can tell: He hopes newspapers don’t blog. (They will.)

: Now to Calacanis’ own business: It’s essentially a weblog syndicate for b2b blogs (in media, technology, business, life sciences — 100 in the first year, 500 in three years), offering hosting and other services; in return, he covers all his costs with the first cut of revenue and then splits profits 50/50 (by my calculations, he’s figuring each blog will pull in six figures). The Denton model, on the other hand, is to pay a pittance but pay nonetheless. The model is (or was) a combination: a guaranteed payment with a split of the upside. Take your pick. The question for any of them is whether there is sufficient advertising revenue to support anyone in blogbiz. The answer: Not yet.

And that is why this has to grow slowly. It cannot grow ahead of advertiser acceptance and performance unless you want to go get a whomp of VC cash and start the implosion clock ticking down.

In the world of weblogs, small is good; small is what makes it possible for them to succeed. And patience is more than a virtue. Patience is an asset.

: But if that’s where Jason stopped — with a business plan and a prayer — I’d tip the hat, wish him luck, buy him lunch (which I’ll do anyway) and watch his progress with eager interest (which I’ll still do).

But what’s more interesting to me is the zero-sum hype game he plays (when — Denton’s right — hype is a dangeros toy to be playing with right now).

In his mission statement, Jason plays to flavor-of-the-month media bashing:

Traditional journalism is, in a word, broken. We’ve spent the last decade working in publishing (online and offline) and we believe that traditional journalism is imploding. Traditional news outlets like the New York Times are experiencing huge embarrassments like Jayson Blair. We believe these episodes are based on the increasing pressure media companies have to the