Caveat conglomerate

Beware the big company that tries to venture into this, the small world owned by its individuals, without proper respect and perspective. Consider:

* Flickr natives are planning a revolt against Yahoo for consolidating identities.

* Look at the comments under my interview with CBS blogger Vaughn Ververs. I tried to warn CBS that objective blogging wouldn’t work and, sure enough, bloggers threw tomatoes.

* MySpace folks fretted at the purchase of their world by News Corp.

* Though hardly a major media conglomerate — yet — Weblogs Inc. found itself the target of a few snowballs over its contract. A company’s a company, a contract’s a contract, money’s money, that’s life, and I’m not sure there’s a thing they should have done differently. But even this is illustration that this is a newly delicate dance.

The issue is that we, the people, believe we own this space — not just blogs, not just online, but anyplace where we put our effort and trust and money. And isn’t it modern corporate nirvana to be a “we company” instead of a “they company”? But you have to mean it.

  • Jimmy

    Whenever I read stories like these I just shake my head. First, the Flickr folks are acting like children, the commenters’ responses to the CBS blog are way over the top, and the MySpace brouhaha was really nonexistent. We can all prattle on about “small is the new big,” but large corporations are not going away no matter how much we wish it. Viacom may be splitting up, but that’s a business decision; and Time Warner may separate itself from AOL, but that would be better for both companies. That doesn’t mean conglomerates are in their last throes. Hell, look at Google. The once upstart darling is now a multi-billion conglomerate and only getting bigger with plans to be even more in control of information technology. As much as we wish, blogs and citizen “media” are not going to bring the downfall of corporate content distribution, just change it. And the corporation that can best figure out how to ride that wave will be even more wealthy, parhaps even larger, than before. My bets are on companies like Google, NewsCorp, and to a lesser extent Yahoo. Yeah, they’ve made mistakes, and will make more, but they’re maneuvering themselves into a very good place one step at a time. People can either whine about it, like say the Flickr and MySpace folks, or they can try to be a part of it, to make change work for the average citizen.

  • Jimmy, in a narrow definition of the problem, it is nonsense. But when the members of a community are the content producer, they become stakeholders, if not shareholders, and they have a vested interest in the actions of the community. When the internet folk decide that they no longer like something, it stinks of dead fish, and no one will touch it. Do you think we dirty hippies will use MySpace now that it’s owned by NewsCorp, or will they flee? Or how about what whatever search engine they buy? It’s not an all or nothing world, but contemplate the following – the people who author the technologies that drive the internet and enable content disagree with centralized media ownership and distribution. The entire internet, and it’s culture (as a majority) is designed and functions on that principle. ANd if enough people want it (like filesharing), as in “free markets”, then it will happen.

  • We added 25+ bloggers in August and 25 over the June/July time period. Our turnover is tiny since we can accommodate folks who want to work two hours a week or six hours a day.

    None of the bloggers in the network are complaining and those are the folks I work for.

    In fact, the bloggers in the network are saying it’s the best gig they’ve ever had! We’ve given raises five quarters in a row and I don’t see that stopping. We’re going to make blogging at Weblogs, Inc. is the best writing gig IN THE WORLD. I’ve been saying that for 18 months and right now we are halfway there. In another 12-18 month we’ll be able to pay writers from the NYT and WSJ the same–if not more–money working from home, writing how they want, when they want, and without being filtered. We’re so close I can taste it!

    That’s our goal, to give writers the best platform and pay in the business. Sure, we’ve got a legal contract that protects us and it sounds scary, but that comes with the territory of being a “major” small company (or a small company with major plans?! :-). We’ve got to protect our shareholders. The fact is two major bloggers have left our network over the past year and we didn’t even enforce their non-competes. The non-competes are really their to protect us from getting raided from someone like or Gawker Media (which wouldn’t happen since we are all friends, but you get the idea… version 4.0). No one blogger leaving Weblogs, Inc. can cause a problem, and leaving Weblogs, Inc. can’t cause a problem for any of our bloggers–everyone is here because they want to be. That’s a good balance to have (i.e. no co-dependence).

    We’re not a small company any more, but we’ve got more small company soul now then ever. The bloggers are never edited and they never will be edited as long as I’m the CEO–a job I’m not giving up since this is the best job I’ve ever had in my life!!!

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