Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg poses at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Feb. 5, 2007. This was long before he became a modern-day robber baron.
At Breakingviews, Rob Cox lays into our presumptions about the virtues of Silicon Valley startup founders like Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Pincus, and (by implication) Steve Jobs. Here's a salient paragraph:
Though Silicon Valley’s newest billionaires may anoint themselves the saints of American capitalism, they’re beginning to resemble something else entirely: robber barons. Behind the hoodies and flip-flops lurk businesspeople as rapacious as the black-suited and top-hatted industrialists of the late 19th century. Like their predecessors in railroads, steel, banking, and oil a century ago, Silicon Valley’s new entrepreneurs are harnessing technology to make the world more efficient. But along the way, that process is bringing great economic and labor dislocation, as well as an unequal share of the spoils. Just last week, the Justice Department warned Apple that it planned to sue the company along with several U.S. publishers for colluding to raise the price of electronic books - monopolistic behavior that would have made John Rockefeller proud.
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CEO/founder of Mashable Pete Cashmore attends the 14th Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani, Wall Street on June 14, 2010 in New York City.
Just a quick follow up on yesterday's rumor that CNN is buying Mashable for $200 million. Nobody has bought anybody yet. But at Phillymag, Brian Howard provides some useful speculation on what a sale could ultimately mean:
CNN’s interest is, ultimately, a nod to the future—a tacit acknowledgment that social media may finally be the panacea that allows the robots and algorithms that search the Internet for us to give us exactly what we want: the best content available. It could signal a return to the concept of content as king (rather than the content on the first page of search results, regardless of quality, as king).
Mashable is, by most objective standards, one of the best blogs on the Internet for coverage of social media and technology issues. How ironic indeed if this were to lead to its compromised relevance.
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CNN hosted GOP presidential debates. It may now be debating whether to buy social media and tech blog Mashable.
But what difference does that make? According to Quantcast, Mashable pulls in around 16 million page views a month and has a robust audience that accesses the site's content through what it's really good at, social media. To me, that's what Mashable is all about. It's TechCrunch optimized for Facebook and Twitter. In my own experience, that's the only way I ever access Mashable content: by clicking on Twitter links from the Mashable account that features founder Pete Cashmore's handsome, and now quite possibly rich, mug.
Does it make sense? Actually, I think it's a bargain. CNN is SUCH a mature brand that for it to grow into social-media and a more modern type of tech coverage, it needs to either build a Mashable itself — or go shopping. Is $200 million too much to pay for 16 million PVs and 5 million monthly unique visitors? That's forty bucks per user per month. Bringing those readers into the CNN fold at that price is probably far less costly than what it would take CNN to develop a Mashable on its own (Mashable has been around since 2005).
Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW
A South by Southwest attendee at a panel discussion. As you can tell from the uniform, not a blogger.
Blogging is definitely entering a surly, complex middle age. What started out as a frisky means of self-expression, a way to comment on the news of the day, and a highlight reel of the World Wide Web has become a business. And some folks think that the business of blogging is in the business of getting away with whatever it can.
Or they're just...dealing with the fact that blogging-as-business has developed a hyperactive metabolism that provokes infractions.
Take for example Henry Blodget's mea culpa after pasting the Wikipedia entry on the My Lai massacre into a recent blog post at Business Insider. It's no longer pasted in. Because, as Blodget puts it, Gawker freaked out. Maybe Gawker was right to freak out. But then again Blodget does write plenty of posts that are fairly dense with real business analysis, so it's hardly his pattern.
Nick Denton is the man who founded Gawker Media. He doesn't much like commenters anymore.
Nick Denton is one of those Blog Lords whom, if you blog at all seriously, you have to pay attention to. But you also have to expect Denton to routinely exasperate. Such as when Gawker Media redesigned its blogs to be far more iPad friendly — and reader unfriendly. Or just today, when CNN reported on some comments that the Great Provocateur made at South by Southwest:
In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites.
A decade and a half later, the very idea is laughable, says Gawker Media founder Nick Denton.
"It didn't happen," said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker. "It's a promise that has so not happened that people don't even have that ambition anymore.
"The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership -- that's a joke."