That Ain’t Beans

Paid Content has the scoop this morning that AOL will buy Weblogs Inc. (publisher of Enagadget, etcetera) for an undisclosed sum rumored to be north of $20 million — this for an operation said to have $2 million in annual revenues to support 15 full time employees and 130 bloggers. Congratulations, of course, to principals Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey, but if I might just spend a paragraph to noodle through the deal, it appears Weblogs is a lean operation to put it kindly.

I used the above numbers, guesstimated by Paid Content, to rough out a budget. Take 20 percent off the top for occupancy and overhead (phones, hosting services, utilities). Assume the 15 FTEs withdraw $50,000 apiece (salary, taxes and bennies). That leaves about $6,500 per capita to spread out among the bloggers. Many burritos must have been consumed in the making of this startup. And now the payoff comes with flipping the property. I have admired the Calacanis approach and have oft-quoted his dictum “blog plus database equals business.” Weblogs Inc. is a confederation of trade blogs. The notion of online trade pubs makes sense to me and it is inspiring to see this endeavor succeed. May we all be so lucky (in the way that luck favors the prepared mind).

East & West: I knew the Web 2.0 conference was happening in my backyard (San Francisco) but only learned of the We Media event in New York from Paid Content. Alas I will be at neither, but I’ll read some of the reports flowing from both events and maybe find a few crumbs relevant to my mini media focus to nibble on next week. (Could not access We Media conference site at blog time; could it be their servers were overloaded?)

Play It Again: In addition to these Web media conclaves, New York University is now hosting the State of Play conference that focuses on MMOGs — that is, massively multiplayer online games. These virtual worlds are becoming more lifelike. I have blogged about them in the past because I consider them a media form. Apropos of that I noticed an item in one of the back issues of Paid Content that I only now got around to reading, about a streaming video TV network that is being planned by denizens of Second Life, one of the advanced MMOGs. This is media within media. How deep does it go and where does it end?

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media