Wednesday, September 29, 2010
So, Michael Arrington sold his popular Techcrunch blog for $25 million. Blogging will make you millions, you say. Hold on. You can count the number of big-ticket blog (and blog networks & aggregators) acquisitions on your fingertips. Blogs have boomed in this decade. But what about blogs worth buying? This Google search reveals there isn't much action. Of course, I am not talking about small-size blog sales on sites such as Sitepoint.
Let us look at the important blog purchases in these past 6 years:
2005 - AOL bought pioneering Blog Network Weblogs, Inc. for around $25 million. (In the same month that year, October, Instablogs blog network was launched with myself as Managing Editor) Founder Jason Calacanis stayed at AOL until 2006, where he tried to implement the Digg model by having an army of paid bookmarkers for AOL's Propeller.com site. Results were mixed at best. Some blogs under the Weblogs Inc network, such as Engadget continue to lead the gadget-blogging field, as the writing talent stayed with the blog.
2006 - Conde Nast's Wired Digital bought online news aggregator Reddit.com for an undisclosed sum. According to some reports, the people at Digg (the founders have since left) want the site out of Conde Nast's hands. It helps that traffic at Redit is surging while Digg is busy digging its grave, sort of. Did you know, in 2006, Digg.com, the original all-purpose news aggregator, had a value of $250 million? Did you also know that Reddit is managed by just four people?
2007 - Discovery Communications bought TreeHugger (Founder Graham Hill) for $10M.Treehugger continues to lead the environment news blog field, but the new owners have plastered ads wherever they could.
2007 - MSNBC.com bought social news site Newsvine in an undisclosed, all-cash deal. (Some reports pegged the deal at $15 million)
2008 - BankRate bought Bankaholic (Founder: Johns Wu; Topic: Bank Deposit Rates) for up to $15 Million.
2008 - Cablevision bought New York-based Local blog Network Gothamist for $5M-$6M.
2008 - Nick Denton of Gawker sold the Consumerist blog to nonprofit Consumers Union. Price undisclosed. The same year, Denton also sold music blog Idolator to Buzznet and travel blog Gridskipper to the Curbed network.
2008 - The Guardian bought Digital media news site Paidcontent (Founder: Rafat Ali) for $30 million. Raft will reportedly leave Paidcontent sometime this year.
2009 - MSNBC.com bought local news aggregator site Everyblock (Founder: Adrian holovaty)
2010 - The New York Times bought Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Blog (Topic: polls)
2010 - AOL bought Michael Arrington's Silicon Valley tech news blog Techcrunch for a reported $25 million price.
Which brings me to the question some Indians bloggers may be asking:
If you look at the short list blog acquisitions above, two types of blogs have been bought - Niche blogs and All-purpose, newspaper-like Blog Networks.
The most notable niche in India seems to Media/Digital Media news blog area: Nikhil Pahwa's Medianama, Rajiv Dhingra' Watblog, and Aashish Sinha's Plugg.in. Together these three amount to Paidcontent-meets-Techcrunch for the Indian Digital media space.
Then there is Amit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration, who is single handedly making his money from tech tips & tricks blog. But I do not know how much he makes per month, how much traffic is dependent upon Google , and most important of all, how much brand awareness his blog has, compared to Lifehacker.com.
I was the founding Managing Editor of Instablogs blog network. I left in late 2006. I was glad to hear it received funding, first from Vishal Gondal (Indiagames) in 2008 and this year, Instablogs received $4 million from Times Internet. I think Instablogs and its army of citizen reporters can turn out to be ideal fit for a mainstream news behemoth such as the Times of India.
That brings me to the perhaps the most important criteria for creating a 'buyable' blog: FIT. All the blogs in the above 'bought' list were a FIT in the buyer's bigger scheme of things. I will give you an example. I like to read two excellent media criticism blogs, Wearethebest and Churimuri, but I am not sure of any Indian media brand buying these blogs (if the blogger is willing to sell, that is).
The New York Times might buy the snarky Gawker, but the Indian media boss is not ready for frank opinion.
Another question one may ask: Does blogging pay in the end?
Or, are we better off looking at other Digital opportunities?
Case in point: Minecraft. Swedish programmer Markus Persson single-handedly developed the game, which is selling at $14 a pop, making Markus $350,000 a Day.