An absurd piece of bunny-hugging Web 2.0 frippery yesterday from that bastion of journalistic excellence, the San Francisco Chronicle.
The article, defensively titled "Yes, some blogs are profitable -- very profitable," focuses on TechCrunch, a blog site run by Michael Arrington that covers the startup scene in Silicon Valley.
TechCrunch generates $240,000 in revenues from advertising, chirps Sam Zuckerman, "reporter" with the Chronicle (was it Bring Your Kid to Work Day?). "Most important of all, TechCrunch is in the black," he gushes.
Wow. A profitable online tech publishing business? Making almost a quarter of a million dollars a month? Really? I guess the rest of us should just pack up and go home, because from the way this article is written you would think Michael Arrington has cracked the secret to successful online publishing -- perhaps even the secret to eternal youth.
Apparently it's too much to expect the Chronicle to provide a little perspective on these facts, so let's insert some of our own. Assuming that TechCrunch is really making $240,000 a month (as a private company there's no way to tell, other than to take Arrington's word for it... Go on, you first) that amounts to $2.88 million a year. Less than $3 million. From a company that's been around for three years.
In comparison, Light Reading, the company I co-founded in 2000, made $6.5 million in its third year, covering one industry (telecom) that was in freefall, as part of another (Internet publishing) that had just been through a total meltdown. And we were profitable from day one.
After staff, Web hosting, other expenses, and taxes, the money left from that $3 million obviously makes a nice living for Mr. Arrington. But this is hardly big business. For technology publishers (a.k.a. "businesses") like CMP, IDG, or Ziff, it's a teeny weeny amount of money. And for mega corporations like UBM (the company that owns CMP) it doesn't even move the needle.
The really noteworthy thing about TechCrunch is not how much money it makes, but how little, and also the fact that the blog-based publishing market as a whole is so pathetically feeble that this profitable company making a couple of million buckeroos a year is held up as some sort of miracle of Web publishing.
TechCrunch, its revenues, and the SF Chronicle's article are all facets of the thunderous storm of bloviation hovering over Web 2.0.
When did the San Francisco Chronicle become such a dire newspaper? Great American cities are supposed to have great American newspapers. Hell, even some of the not-so-great American cities have great newspapers. But the Chronicle is absolute crap -- a potpourri of syndicated spume, and poorly researched, style-challenged, typing (not writing). I suspect the reason the SFC can continue to churn out this garbage is that many of its newer citizens work in the Web 2.0 startups and are all too eager to guzzle at the spigot of unfiltered Web 2.0 hype.
— Stephen Saunders, Insultant