A reported just send me some questions… I won’t print who sent the questions till the story comes out, but as I normally do I thought I would share the information in the post. I find sharing as much information about the business helps me really push our internal discussions. When I speak with the management team they know my positions on things, and when I talk to my peeps over at AOL they know what we’re working on.
It’s a shame that all these long interviews get cut down to three short quotes… so, here ya go!
> 1. Coming into 2005, were you actively looking to sell?
Not at all. I don’t build businesses with an exit in mind–I only build sustainable businesses.
> How long was this
> deal in the works?
Couple of months.
> 2. What has changed, performancewise, revenuewise, trafficwise, since the
> deal? And have you been surprised by the performance at all?
Things are progressing largely the same as they were before the deal except for two major areas:
1. We are getting a lot more support in terms of promotion, advertising sales, and infrastructure. We don’t have to worry about
the basic–but very important–things like accounting, servers, and payroll.
2. More importantly, however, is that as we get integrated into AOL’s systems our blogs will be a) sold along with AOL’s inventory and b)
syndicated to AOL’s content offering. If you look around AOL Autos you’ll see Autoblog and if you look around AOL’s TV section you’ll
find TVSquad–that integration is just the start. We’ve got a lot more exciting stuff coming up.
> 3. There seems to have been a bit of controversy surrounding the number of
> active WIN blogs vs. the stated number in AOL’s press release, and naturally
> plenty written about it in the blogging arena.
It’s not a controversy for AOL or WIN.
It’s a non-issue that Nick, in classic Denton style, had one of his Interns work on to try to embarrass me.
We’ve always counted our *total* number of blogs, not the active ones, because many of our blogs are event or time driven, and because when
we started we tried a lot of different things out.
Also, there is no reason to turn off an inactive blog because people still get value from the archives (and the archives still make money).
Nick chooses to sell his old blogs (OddJack) to advertisers, we retire them–both models work just fine.
If you look on our blogroll (in the right hand column) you’ll see we’ve had a retired/on hiatus section for some time now.
We’ve been consolidating blogs since bigger blogs seem to work better for us right now. For example. some blog networks are doing one blog for each TV show and we’re doing a TV blog (TVSquad).
We could spin out a Desperate Housewives or LOST blog but we would rather try and get TVSquad.com to 100k pages a day than a LOST blog to
5k pages a day. The LOST blog will go away some day, TVSquad will be around forever–I’m sure you get that.
The total number of blogs is not important at the end of the day. The real metrics–in order–are earnings, revenue, page views, active
bloggers, and blog posts. After you look at those numbers you can apply the percentage of growth.
> – Was the number of active blogs a concern for AOL, pre-deal?
Like I said, the most important things are earnings, revenue, and the growth of those two things. That is what real business people look at.
> – In light of the controversy, has AOL raised it as a concern with you
> privately and/or publicly?
It’s not a controversy and it has never come up.
> – Have your thoughts changed at all re: “retiring” the inactive blogs, a
> notion mentioned in message posts on your blog?
As I mentioned above we already did that. Take a look at the blogroll.
> – Do you regret anything in terms of the sale?
Not that I can think of.
> 4. What’s the future for WIN, short-term and long-term?
We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done:
– Launch great blogs
– Hire great bloggers
– Increase blogger pay
Our goal is to be the best writing gig in the world based on freedom, exposure, enjoyment, and pay–we’re half way there. We have almost no blogger churn.
> How do you plan to
> sustain growth, or increase revenue?
Produce world class content like Engadget’s CES coverage, Autoblog’s Detroit Autoshow coverage, and Cinematical’s upcoming Sundance
Blogging is the same as the restaurant business: it all about what’s on the plate.
> Also, can you recc someone for me to talk to at AOL regarding the deal?
Call AOL’s PR department and ask to speak with Jim Bankoff.