Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 30, 2010

King Kongtent

This week, AOL announced the acquisition of several companies, including TechCrunch, which is a company that produces a variety of online sites devoted to news about technology and the tech industry. According to something called “,” TechCrunch is, “The top source of breaking technology news online.” That purchase, according to media speculation, was worth $25 million, although no official amount was announced by AOL. Reportedly, AOL is still generating something in the neighborhood of 40% of its revenue from subscriptions to its dial-up service. (I’d be interested to hear from any of our readers who are reading Under Western Skies via a dial-up connection.) AOL, saddled with that business model, has embarked on this and a few other acquisitions in an attempt to break into a new platform for generating business. The clear message from the leadership of AOL is that they believe the old adage (if something from about 1996 can either be an adage, much less “old”) that Content Is King.

That can only be good news for those of us who write stuff. The 21st Century term for those who write stuff is “content providers.” Under Western Skies is a “content provider.” I am providing content to you at this very moment and I hope you are at least content with it. The reason I find this news encouraging is that I work in a corner of the technology industry in which acquisitions, small, large and XXX-size happen every day, but they’re always about technology per se: storage, networks, gadgets, devices, systems and software. It’s heartening to see content acquired by a tech company for a nice price. In other industries — publishing and entertainment come to mind — the acquisitions are all ABOUT content: books, movie rights, movie options, author advances, songs, paintings. To have a technology firm acquire a content provider is good. It boosts the market. There is an obvious and overwhelming intermeshing of technology, entertainment and communications, and AOL is trying to keep its head above water in order to continue swimming, at least, in the wake of Apple, Google, Amazon and that crowd.

What, then, does Under Western Skies need to do in order to be acquired for $25 million? At least 40 people a day, on average, think that investing time in the content of UWS is worthwhile. What is the viewership over at TechCrunch? About 3.8 million unique visitors per month, according to the New York Times. Yeow. You guys are going to have to help recruit a lot of your Facebook friends to come here for UWS to approach a number like that.

It doesn’t seem right, does it, that a site that just writes about one subject, technology, gets so many more readers than the far-ranging interests we cover here, including literature, dinosaurs, travel, roadside attractions and visits from Bob Brumfield? There’s simply no justice.

I wrote about the Beatles once. Maybe Ringo, Paul and Yoko need an extra boost to their incomes. They might want to buy a stake and we’d do a few more Beatles bits. Nah. I’d probably have to listen to some of Yoko’s records, so that’s out.

What about libraries? We like libraries. Well, libraries are public institutions and don’t pay to advertise, unless they’re run for a profit by a company like LSSI, and I pretty much scotched my chances of swinging a deal with that company in yesterday’s post.

Doesn’t really matter. Plenty of authors, musicians, poets, songwriters all ask themselves similar questions. Why does X, that no-talent bozo, get the big record deals and the tours with stadiums filled with fans, while I labor in obscurity. It’s just not a fair world.

And, besides, that’s not really what we’re about here. As I’ve said before, it would be relatively simple to generate a lot of traffic by only writing about notorious celebrities or to write incendiary things about politics or social issues. There’s no secret to it. All I’d need would be a steady stream of references to Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashian Triplets or Newt and Sarah and Joe Biden and whoever else; build it, and they would come. But it’s like building a giant mansion in which to entertain crowds of people one doesn’t even like. It makes me weary to think of it.

I guess I’ll go poke around to see if there are any new dinosaur species being discovered. Content is king, especially if it’s Kontentisaurus Rex.

© 2012 Brad Nixon



  1. Content provider? Or contentment provider?


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