Monday, July 31, 2006

Watch the scumbag squirm

From the PBS News Hour, Aug. 20, 2001:
The "Industry Standard," a San Francisco-based magazine that chronicled and mirrored the rise of the so-called new economy and its dotcom wizards announced last week that it was ceasing publication. As of tonight, about 175 employees will be out of work. In a three-and-a-half-year publishing history, the "Standard" rode the dot-com boom to the top. At its height in the spring last year, with advertising revenues pouring in, the publication ran to 360 pages. The last issue, dated August 27, had shrunk to 88 pages, as advertising revenues from struggling high-tech companies plunged.

After that grim introduction, young Mr. Battelle appears on the television and tells such sweet, stupid lies. Yes, "about 175" journalists lost their livelihoods that day. And he went on TV to say how it's not that bad.

John, some of us were watching. Oh, I mean, "All of us were watching."

You sure seem like a smug sack of shit here on this TV show while we were trying to figure out how to make our house payments, feed our children, pay our insurance, etc.

Read this and feel all the hate and trauma all over again. It is a good way to prepare for Battelle's latest car crash - oh yes, and he's headed right for that farmer's market filled with innocent people.

Murder, Inc.

Did John Battelle's wretched tech magazine the Industry Standard only ruin lives?

A tipster (thanks Joe) sent me this terrible story today ... and I admit this is the first I've heard of it.

Murder Accusations Shroud Industry Standard's Latin America Talks

Unproved charges didn't kill deal with magazine, CEO says


Um, what?

Here's a story you won't read in the Industry Standard.

It's a tale of how the hot Internet magazine nearly nailed a deal to acquire or enter a partnership with a new Latin American monthly.

And it's also a tale of how talks with the new magazine faltered -- just as the Standard received a background check that tied one of the new publication's execs to an old murder accusation in Colombia.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

65 is the new 54!

Constant exaggeration is Job #1 for the Web Bubble Master.

It should be sketchy enough that all but a half-dozen of Federated Media's "author driven properties" are tiny unknown sites.

But that's not sketchy enough for Mr. Battelle. His company claims "nearly 65 sites" in the Federated Media stable ... yet only 54 are listed on his little company's roster.

Are underperforming sites being culled from the Federated Media pack? Lord knows there are scores of sites nobody has ever heard of, and too many that "boast" traffic of a few thousand page views per month.

(Has any site given up on Federated Media - or been dropped - just yet? If so, they're keeping shamefully quiet. Nothing like the smell of NDA's in the morning ... smells like ... failure.)

The vulture capitalists are still enjoying their holidays and vacation homes this summer, so it's hard to imagine any of the Federated Media "angel" investors carefully watching over Battelle's shady stable of mostly-lesser websites during these dog days of summer.

But the dog days will end. Will the "angels" realize Federated Media has based its entire bubbly business on a handful of sites out of that alleged "nearly 65"?

Facts evolve in this scummy world. Mr. Battelle even seems to have quit claiming he's a "professor," as his recent biographies claimed.

Even the "adjunct professor" bits have faded away. These days, according to Federated Media, Mr. Battelle is so humble that he's just on leave from the graduate school of journalism at UC Berkeley - maybe he's earning a degree.

Maybe he's even studying ethics.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stench of Death

Maybe it sounded like hyperbole or sour grapes when I said a bubble will burst whenever John Battelle enters the scene. Or maybe my dire predictions are "only" based on the devastating Internet Bubble collapse of just five years ago.

But what's this?

Yahoo's value drops by 22% - or some $11 billion - in a single day, all because of a seemingly minor delay in new advertising software?

And Google, which is constantly championed by Mr. Battelle, takes a $4 stock plunge even though the news is supposed to be good for Google?

Both companies make tons of money, and they absolutely dominate the search-engine industry.

Federated Media's corporate blog wisely ignores both developments. And Mr. Battelle himself skipped town a week ago, promising to avoid the Internet and leaving his dubious "Search Blog" in the hands of a guest editor.

What does he know, and how did he know it?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A smart guy named Jason Calacanis, who made $25 million selling his company to AOL, thinks Battelle's idea is moronic.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

'Web 2.0 is bollocks'

A Web 2.0 Battelle skeptic? Could it be? Is there still hope for any of us?
Web 2.0 is, in short, bollocks. Or put another way, Web 2.0 is Bubble 2.0. There, now we’ve said it. It’s out in the open. We can all relax.

Why? Well. Fundamentaly Web 2.0 resits definition. Therefore you could classify it as falling into that category of thoughts that commonly resists definition: emotions. You see, Web 2.0 is a very emo thing. It’s about sharing (blogs, del.icio.us, flikr), it’s about the people (myspace), connections (friendster), holding hands and a whole load of other socially driven phenomena. It’s about people getting excited about the web again. "Shit," some characters are thinking, "this web really didn’t turn out to be the ‘CB radio of the 90s’. It, like, works."

But "why the hostility to this" you say ? Well. I’m glad you asked.

The problem comes when you have a reality gap between what the technology can do and what peole expect the technology can do. That’s when expectations depart from actuality and when people/companies begin to make foolish decisions with other peoples money. It’s what can happen when too much emotion surrounds a technology ...
A massive "reality gap" between the real world and the Silicon Valley hype machine is exactly what led to the bloody crash of 2001.

(The Internet Bubble crash, I mean. Somehow the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have completely vaporized the ugly events of the summer of 2001 ... at least in the memories of tech journalists.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bubble fireworks

When John Battelle latches (leeches?) onto an industry, history says that industry is just about to have a painful collapse.

That's what happened when the Industry Standard magazine made its name. The rise of that glorified trade publication was directly tied to the fall of the first Internet bubble. Battelle slithered away, leaving countless wrecked lives and a stain on the technology world for years to come.

And then he crawled out of his bunker, sniffed the air, smelled that peculiar odor of a balloon about to pop, and launched a sketchy business based on the big fad of 2002 ... web logs.

Can you guess what the bubble is this week?

Monday's New York Times had a curious article about a pioneering (and successful) blog company suddenly downsizing, due to a decline in advertising and increased costs. Gawker Media is shutting down some of its failed sites and also fired several top editors. A consumer-magazine editor was brought in to make the content more mainstream.

Gawker Media is owned by the same English technology journalist who once ran another bubble business, the Silicon Valley networking party called "First Tuesday." Credited with turning blogs into a viable business, now he seems to be retreating. Why?

First, advertising is a fickle thing. Particularly the entertainment advertising upon which so many websites depend. A change in the advertising industry's conventional wisdom, cutbacks by the studios: it wouldn't take much to prick the current exuberance. Better to sober up now, before the end of the party.

Even though readership is up, it sounds like ad money is down. Everybody knows July is a dead time of year for ad sales, but this complicated decision was presumably made well before it showed up in the New York Times.

Hype popped the last bubble. Every prospectus was filled with big numbers, and venture capitalists quit verifying those numbers. That's what Battelle was counting on this time around.

For example, go to the Federated Media website and Battelle's star blog is right there, boasting "more than 2 million unique visitors" per month.

Yet Nielsen/Net Ratings (the only Internet-readership company trusted by big advertisers) reported only 605,000 unique visitors to Boing Boing in July 2005. Yes, that was a year ago, but Nielsen/Net Ratings pegs Boing Boing with 20 percent annual traffic growth.

And that would put Battelle's flagship site at 726,000 unique visitors a month ... far less than half of the 2 million claimed by Federated Media.

That kind of Enron accounting should serve as a giant red flag over not only the latest Battelle scheme, but the whole irrational exuberance of the blog bubble.