I Got Yer New Media Empire Right Here, Pumpkin

It is a typical pattern: a small company gets noticed, gets big, wants to be bigger, tries to get bigger quickly and falls on its face. 1/3 the traffic, 3 times the laughs.

I realize there is a fine line between beating the competition to the market, and coming up with quality sites, but sometimes it is good to let others go ahead of you in launching specialty blogs so you can watch them stumble and not do what they do.

That’s our plan anyway.

10 Responses to “I Got Yer New Media Empire Right Here, Pumpkin”

  1. Phoat Says:

    Pumpkin?

    I agree, but I also do not.

    If you have a solid business plan and have accounted for all contigencies (impossible) and have procedures that allow you to be flexible enough to roll with the unexpected punches, there is no reason why you should wait for someone else to hit the market before you do.

    True, there is a lot to be learned from other people’s mistakes, but the web is an extremely flexible medium with a very low barrier to entry. The market can easily become saturated by the time you decide to launch by others who were waiting, just like you.

    A prime example of this is Scrivs’ CSS Vault. I believe it is too late now to attempt something similar because there are already several sites doing the same thing (CSS Beauty and Style Gala to mention two). Paul was there first, he set the standard on how it was supposed to be done, he made his mistakes, but the nature of the web allowed him to recover quickly and gracefully. Now (at least to me) is the top CSS Gallery on the web, and all because he was first and he had a solid plan (I assume).

    If, however, you don’t have a solid plan or don’t know enough about the subject to create something effective, either hire someone who does know (to fill in your knowledge gaps) or persue something else that is more to your knowledge. Waiting for someone to make mistakes wont help you in the long run.

    In the end, it all depends on planning.

  2. Matthew Oliphant Says:

    Yesterday at dayjob, I was attempting to annoy one of my coworkers (with little success I am sad to say) by ending each sentence with “pumpkin.” I think I was still in that mode when I wrote the title. :)

    In the above post, you may sense a little frustration from me. I have been hit over the past week with many instances of “we must move forward no matter what.”

    To me, “no matter what” should be left to movies. When people say, “no matter what” I feel it is often because they cannot think of a real reason to move forward other than they are expected to move forward or “all will be lost” unless they do.

    I completely agree, of course, that it depends. As I said, there is a line to walk.

    On the one hand, you can work on something for 15 months, then fumble the debut (even though you probably have a pretty solid app) and lose share to someone who spent a little less time, but handled their launch well, and had a good app.

    On the other hand, you can rush production and launch with something that looks and functions like crap.

    Every company’s needs and motivations a unique. While we value money, we value quality and community more. (Only barely more though. :) I just don’t want to be a company that launches crap to gain market.

  3. Ryan Mahoney Says:

    I think launching an application (like Basecamp) and a weblog (like Jalopnik) are two totally different beasts. Launching an app, everything has to be 100% or your rep damaged. A website like Jalopnik, I think it’s better to get it out the door and get feedback from the target audience and revise revise revise. If they really care about the content the format of the site (ad placement, etc.) probably isn’t too important.

  4. Nollind Whachell Says:

    Stop trying to not make mistakes. In making mistakes you learn. In learning you evolve. Being perfect is boring. Get messy.

    Besides there is nothing wrong with making a mistake. It is when you don’t learn from your mistakes then that is where the problem lies. I’ve seen companies flub up big time but as long as they realized their errors and made amends to their customers, then everything was fine. It is those companies who think they are perfect that often make mistakes only to ignore their customers because they can’t admit to making the mistake (since their “perfect”). Obviously customers can see straight through this “act”, so the company isn’t really fooling anyone (except themselves).

    Hope that made sense. Hehe! :)

  5. Tim Says:

    I think there’s some merit in Matthew’s observation that (to paraphrase and maybe embellish) “it’s the late-comers who get it right the first time.” Naturally it doesn’t apply in every case as there are probably other variables affecting sucess. With CssVault, Paul Scrivens had a clear vision of what the site would be and also I believe, thought it out several times before going ahead. An exception might be Microsoft. Isn’t the only reason Windows dominates the desktop market because it was the first IBM-PC operating system? Linux is categorically better but it’s too late because most applications are still being written for Windows and if you want those programs you have to stick with Windows.
    Also, like Matthew I’d rather make something of lasting value. If that means staring out the window for a year while you form that piece of clay on your mental pottery wheel then so be it. There’s plenty of quantity in the world, what’s needed is more quality.

  6. Stu Schaff Says:

    I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I mean, — and here’s a hyperbole — if everyone were to just sit back on their heels and wait for someone else to make a mistake just so they could “do it right the first time”, nothing would ever get done. Pumpkin.

    I feel like ideas should be treated a different way: if you’ve got a great idea, nuture it for a little bit, and then act on it. The best way to go about any creative endeavor is to 1) brainstorm, 2) let ideas simmer in creative juices, 3) decide to go ahead or to drop the idea completely.

    And isn’t it funny that I just wrote a weblog entry on the subject of developing ideas?developing ideas?

  7. Matthew Oliphant Says:

    Stu, see my comment above, and the associated link.

    I think we essentially agree.

  8. Jason Says:

    >> It is a typical pattern: a small
    >> company gets noticed, gets big, wants
    >> to be bigger, tries to get bigger
    >> quickly and falls on its face. 1/3 the
    >> traffic, 3 times the laughs.

    I’m not sure if I would say Gawker has jumped the shark like you’re saying above (not sure if you’re talking about Gawker, yourself or Weblogs, Inc?!?!).

    Even though Kotaku and Jalopnik are only getting 5-15k pages a day on average, they are only two or three months old. I’m sure in is six months they will look much different and have 25k pages a day.

    >> I realize there is a fine line
    >> between beating the competition
    >> to the market, and coming up with
    >> quality sites, but sometimes it is
    >> good to let others go ahead of
    >> you in launching specialty
    >> blogs so you can watch them
    >> stumble and not do what they
    >> do.

    You’re correct. There is no need to rush to market. We launched Engadget 18-24 months after Gizmodo and caught up to them in six months. Now the sites do about the same amount of traffic.

    Gawker launched Jalopnik and Kotaku six months after http://www.Autoblog.com and http://www.joystiq.com, and i’m sure in six months they will have similar traffic.

    In terms of your very good-looking car blog I’m sure you’ll catch up to Jalopnik and Autoblog over time. Even if you don’t, who cares?! If it makes you happy and helps you pay the rent that is success.

    In fact, I hope another five to ten quality car blog are launched, as each space is going to need 10-20 blogs.

    You guys are doing good work, just take your time, keep up the quality like you did on The Car Blog and you’ll get there. You’ve also got a solid team it seems, at the end of the day all you’ve got is the team.

    Starting is easy, finishing is hard.

  9. Matthew Oliphant Says:

    The number one reason The Car Blog exists is to make us and our readers happy. Money is a distant second.

    As a company, Business Logs wants to make money because of The Car Blog, but it was never our intent to put profit above enjoyment.

    We have a slightly different model on the site than autoblog and jalopnik. So in that sense, I agree with you about there being room available for more auto-related blogs. However, I think the first comers have a foreseeable lock on the readership in regards to commented aggregation of news stories. Which is why we chose a somewhat different model: The maglog. The blogazine. The hubcap. Whatever you want to call it. :)

    I know what you mean about starting and finishing, but I would refine that to say that starting and finishing are easy. It’s the stuff in the middle that requires a lot of effort.

  10. Jason Says:

    >> We have a slightly different model on
    >> the site than autoblog and jalopnik.
    >> So in that sense, I agree with you
    >> about there being room available
    >> for more auto-related blogs.
    >> However, I think the first
    >> comers have a foreseeable lock on
    >> the readership in regards to
    >> commented aggregation of news
    >> stories.

    Actually, I’ll take exception to that. :-)

    Yes, you guys do the long form thing well. And yes, Jalopnik does the comments on news stories thing ok.

    However, http://www.autoblog.com does tons of long form (i.e. actual car reviews!), *and* commenting on the news.

    Check out the killer Mustang review we did over like 6 days at the site:
    http://www.autoblog.com/entry/0535432654364176/
    or the review of the 300C we did:
    http://www.autoblog.com/entry/2870088343354288/

    In fact, I think we are the only blog really doing car reviews… although, I could be wrong on that since I can’t keep up with all the car blogs out there.

    That being said, all three will do really well I think, and you guys are off to an amazing start!

    best j