Friday, February 02, 2007

John Battelle boasts and whines

I was over Professor Battelle. I buried the hatchet. I was going to let him rot in his own pompous hell. It was either that or go insane. Then I saw a link to a February 17 Business Week story. Bigger Bucks For The Blogoshere. I drank it faster than a bottle of whisky at my AA meeting.

The lede: "Over the past decade, John Battelle has shown a flair for creating innovative media properties. In the 1990s, he helped found Wired magazine. During the dot-com boom, he launched The Industry Standard." No mention that those were busts. No mention of the many lives ruined by those innovative media properties.

The article's author, Spencer E. Ante, should remember those rotten times. In 2003 he reviewed a book about the The Industry Standard's epic meltdown and the liquidation of John's grand, arrogant promises. "Ever cocky, Battelle once boasted to staffers that the publication would have 900 employees and $1 billion in sales by 2005." That wrinkle is forgotten in the rush to write about the newest fad.

Anyway, what's a billion dollars between friends? Ante reports with a straight face that in 2006 Federated Media "sold more than $10 million in advertising for about 90 Web sites. This year, Battelle says it is on track to turn a profit and increase sales fivefold." Hubris is in full bubble again.

Factcheck! Get out your calculator. 40% of $10 million is $4 million dollars. John reportedly had fewer than 20 hirelings last year, so unless he's renting the TajMahal and paying himself $500,000 and everyone else $200,000, $4 million should have given John a healthy profit 2006. That $10 million smells rotten or maybe John is paying himself $1,000,000. OK, that's possible.

I Googled more and tripped over this screamer. "It was a strange Davos moment--a large "media lunch" with bloggers and MainStream Media in one room which included Jeff Jarvis and Arthur Sulzbergers Jr. The MSM folks were complaining about the decline of quality journalism due to a fall in advertising causing cutbacks of seasoned reporters in foreign and domestic bureaus. Nothing new there. But then there was John Battelle, king of the bloggers, complaining about the lack of advertising for blogs. He's aggregated a bunch and is trying to sell them to advertisers but they won't pay much for quality blogging. It's all about CPM, he said and they didn't understand quality blogging."

Is anyone editing over at Business Week? I pick random sites listed on John's site. Metafilter = no ads. Lifeclever = no ads. Digg, are they still with him? On Digg, ads from Google. Is the pompous professor taking credit for Google sales in his $10 million? If so, is he charging bloggers 40% for putting Google ads on their sites?

John thinks that saying something makes it true. He's a writer and words are more powerful than reality. Say you are professor and you are a professor. Say you sold $10 million in ads and you sold $10 million. Yeah, that's right, and next year I'll sell $50 million.

Ante should have asked these questions. But of course, John knows how to play journalists. Give 'em some candy, flatter their writing, hint that they might join you some day. The market for advertising may rise and fall, but the market for self-aggrandizing self-delusion never goes down. Having been suckered by the companies he wrote about and depended on for ads through the first dotcom boom, John has himself learned how to play uncritical journalists for amnesiac fools.


Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

When Battelle says he sold $10 million in ads, that doesn't equate directly to revenue going directly to FM, does it? I mean, presumably FM only gets 15% or so in commission, so FM's actual revenue would be more in the range of $1.5 million while the other $8.5 million goes back to the publishers. Not so hard to believe FM didn't make a profit on those numbers.

1:25 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul, do you actually believe John Battelle is giving bloggers 85 percent of the stream? John Battelle? I don't think so.

6:35 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the info coming man...sooner or later the truth sets in for "mr. f ing phd bs can't search your name because you're a cheese dick battelle" and once again another bubble bursts......

mr f ing bubble..i love it!

9:57 AM PST  
Blogger Glenn said...

The numbers in these comments are all wrong. I'm a FM site (Wi-Fi Networking News), and I get 60 percent of the revenue. FM sells ads directly, so they don't get "15% in commission," they collect revenue from agencies and advertisers based on the CPM of the ad run or the sponsorship. They don't subtract their own overhead. They keep 40 percent, give me 60 percent. Very straightforward. I know all the billings. They provide spreadsheets on demand. I can see the ads being served, I can see how many are served and how many left, and on and on. It's quite transparent.

I know that Mr. Bubble wants to only show John in a negative light, but it's hard to blame John for what BusinessWeek chose to highlight as featured sites. FM has done a great job for me, and I am a VERY small part of their federation.

10:57 AM PST  
Blogger 雙魚 said...


8:41 PM PST  
Blogger 上沖沖下洗洗 said...


6:14 AM PST  

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