Déjà vu all over again yesterday, with news from real estate blog site Curbed.com that it has secured an insignificant ($1.5 million) first round of investment from various people -- who we choose not to mention here, largely because they weren't memorable enough for us to write it down.
The news, in this case, is not as interesting as the way it was covered by our favorite daily organ, The New York Times, in its article on the deal: Not All Is Gloomy in Real Estate: A Blog Network Attracts Capital.
According to The Times, traffic on Curbed.com is growing "10 percent a month." That's nice. But it doesn't actually tell the reader how much traffic Curbed.com has. And without that baseline information, saying that traffic is growing 10 percent a month doesn't mean much. Why, Curbed.com could have had 10 visitors in September, increasing it to a soccer-team-sized 11 in October. Then again, it could have had a trillion billion users, and increased it to a trillion gazillion. Who's to say? Not Times reporter Dan Mitchell, apparently.
Same story (or lack of a story) when it comes to Curbed.com's revenues and profitability. The Paper of Record chooses to list the site's big advertisers, but doesn't burp up anything about how much they pay, or whether that adds up to the proverbial hill o' beans. (Note: according to Curbed.com, The New York Times is, in fact, one of its advertisers -- though Mitchell doesn't include his employer on his list, which struck this writer as rather squirrely).
Frustrated with the article, we contacted Curbed.com and passed a pleasant few minutes chatting with its founder and president, Lockhart Steele, who said that Curbed.com "doesn't reveal overall traffic numbers or uniques." OK, how about revenues? Profitability? Nope, they don't comment on those either.
A glance at Alexa.com indicates that Curbed.com likely gets between 3.5 million and 4 million page views a month. Steele says the company charges 12 CPM for advertising. So, best case, it makes a bit under $50,000 a month, or well under a million a year. [Note: It's highly unlikely that Curbed.com is (1) getting full price for its advertising or (2) selling every page view.]
In other words, this is yet another story of another big newspaper writing another fact-challenged article about another piddly blog site following in the tradition of all piddly blog sites.
Normally a company like Curbed.com, especially one that refused to dish some hard facts about its business, would get zero time from The Great Grey Lady, let alone a 500-word article. But of course, we live in an age of Web 2.0 hysteria and hyperbole.
Other than the Iraq War, perhaps the most notable instance of reputable news organizations uniting to throw logic out of the window when deciding what constitutes news was during the first Internet bubble. And it's quite apparent that a second bubble is now being inflated as we watch (and read).
— Stephen Saunders, Insultant