What now?

What an amazing 24 hours I did at least 20 press interviews, spoke with 100+ people at the Web 2.0 conference, and have been emailing and IMing with our bloggers constantly. I’m fried but it’s a good fried. It reminds me of finishing the marathon. When you make the turn around Columbus Circle (home of the stunning Time Warner HQ btw 🙂 and hear the person saying “You can finish in under four hours!!” and you see the top of the finish line at Tavern on the Green you’re hit with a huge rush. You’re thrilled with the accomplishment of almost being done, you’re completely exhausted, and you’re feeling sad in some ways that the experience is almost over.

What does a marathon runner do when the marathon ends?

Find another marathon!

We’re not a startup anymore, sure that’s true. We don’t have to worry about keeping the lights on any more. Now we can take a six month/three year view of the businessnot a week to week view like most startups like us have to take.

As much as I’m going to miss the struggling startup phase I’m *thrilled* about the growth phase of our business and the reception I’ve gotten from the team at AOL. Jon Miller joked at Web 2.0 yesterday that they did the deal so I could be part of his succession planif only it were so! 🙂

Our issues today are no longer about finding resources or begging for distribution. Nope, what we’ve got to deal with going forward is staying focused, developing a long-term strategy, andas alwaysexecution.

Mark Cuban (who’s the best investor you could ever have btw) always said “let’s not drown in opportunity” when he, my partner Brian and I would talk about the business. That’s why we didn’t launch an RSS reader or blog search engine, and that’s why we told everyone who wanted to do “business development” that there were only three ways to work with us: 1. read our blogs, 2. write our blogs, or 3. support our blogs with advertising.

That’s an important thing for us to keep in mind now that we’re part of such a big company. We’re going to have all kinds of opportunities but, as Mark always says, “let’s stick with what got us here.”

My GMAIL is filled with people asking us to “partner” with them over the past 48 hours. 90% of the time the translation of “partnership” is “give us all your traffic for free, give us your brand equity for free, and spend all your time working on building our business for free and if you do that we’ll share the revenue with you if we make any.”

I have to say my one piece of advice to startups is to focus on building your product and revenue and don’t waste time on partnerships. Maybe when you’re a huge company these things can work out, but the most important things in any startup are: 1. the product and 2. the bottom line.

Folks have been asking me what the relationship with AOL and WIN will be. If you’ve been watching the press you’ve probably read comments about us remaining independent and AOL supporting the heck out of us. That’s basically what’s happening. That was the key to getting the deal done actually. The teams at AOL and WIN both agreed that the bloggers were doing a great job and that the role of AOL was the *same* as that of the management team of WIN: support the bloggers as much as possiblethen get out of their way!

The other question I’ve been getting is if I’ll keep blogging, and if my blog posts have to be approved by AOL’s PR department.

Come on, do you guys think I’d really stop blogging?!!?!? You know me better than that, right! 🙂

AOL loves the fact that I’m “out there” blogging and debating the issues in our industry. Jon Miller said at our closing dinner last night that he wanted us to shake things up a little, and AOL’s amazing PR team is in synch with that. As you know AOL is moving from the wall-garden dialup company to an open, transparent, Web 2.0 company and I’m happy to help. Besides, as we all know, shaking things up is what I do best!

However, let me be clear and say I’m not becoming the Robert Scoble of AOL (at least not at this point). I’m not going to be talking about things outside of Weblogs, Inc. all that much because, frankly, I’m not involved in them! I can’t tell you what’s going on with Netscape, Moviephone, AIM, etc. I can forward you to an AOL PR executive who will be glad to speak with you however (am I starting to sound like Scoble already?!?!). 🙂

In the short term, we’re hiringbig time! So, if you’re interested in working on one of our blogs or if you’ve got an idea for a new topic let us know. There’s a form on the flashy new “Web 2.0” Weblogs, Inc. corporate home page here: www.weblogsinc.com. Also, you can get the “best of” Weblogs, Inc. on that home page.

In the same way I’ve talked about building a startup company on this blog for two years, I’ll be spending the next couple of years talking about integrating a small company into a really big one. As I have in the past I’ll be as transparent as I can without giving away our secret sauce.

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