Defrag Blog

The hard facts of a changing landscape

by Eric Norlin on Aug.03, 2007, under general

I’ve never read the Inquirer before, but I really enjoyed this article. The piece is about the whole big media, small media, online, offline swirl of activity — and specifically how the new “breed” of online publishers (GigaOm, Valleywag, TechCrunch, etc) is winning:

(extensive quoting)
So if print is stalling, and attempts at really kicking off a successful online publishing business are stalling, what link do we draw between Time, Red Herring, and Ziff? Easy - they’re all hung up on publications, not writers. On budgets, not costs. In short - they’ve failed to recognise that as the online market for ads is more competitive, and possibly even less lucrative, they have to scale accordingly.

The most successful outfits on the web right now are not the big publishers, whether online or offline. They’re not the star writers, or the guest columnists earning big bucks - although we do hear that Dvorak has a nice line in French restaurant lunch reservations. The most successful online publications - whether old or new media, whether video or text - all have a lean, mean operation that employs the best people, gives them creative freedom to shape their publication, and frees them from the constraints of the traditional publishing environment and of what has gone before…

So the lesson is not that old media is dead. It’s not that new media is better. It’s not that the content giants don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not even that old companies suck to work for, hence the recent spate of defections. It’s simply that new content startups understand the value of being lean and mean and constraint-free, whereas old media houses are too stuck in the mindset of big, fancy and infrastructure-bound.

Big media ignores the fact that if you’re lean, mean and successful, than the operation can be far more lucrative than being big, flash and successful.”

Amen all week long and twice on Sundays!

And that’s not simply true of publishers, but event producers as well. The simple truth is that a 1-2 person team that knows what they’re doing can run a conference to profitability (from the ground up). The flip-side to that truth is them *not* being burdened with all of the “infrastructure” that they’ll normally get caught up in in a “big company” environment.

What I’m *not* saying is that the 1-2 person team event producers can *scale*. They can’t. There’s no way that I could single-handedly pull off an expo-like show. In fact, the problems of scale probably set in somewhere north of 1mm in revenue. But up to that point, the 1-2 person team can pull off things that infrastructure-laden groups simply cannot — especially in profitability.

The changes in the publishing world apply to the conference world as well.

1 comment for this entry:
  1. Nick

    putting techcrunch gigaom in the same sentence as valleywag speaks volume about the future of these online upstarts…irrelevent

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