Last night's Gigaom shutdown is sad reminder re: tough media business
Photo: Om Malik and Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee Pier Screenings Event in S.F. (summer 2007)
I have known and worked with Om Malik, founder of Gigaom, since his days as a staff writer at Red Herring, the once-thick print magazine covering tech innovation that flourished during the dot-com boom days. And I continued working with Malik and editorial colleagues at Business 2.0, one of my favorite all-time tech business magazines that shut down in 2007. The Business 2.0 networking parties were “da bomb,” and in a small way made up for me missing out on most of the The Industry Standard’s rooftop parties (where all the Internet movers and shakers mingled) when I was a junior account executive for Julie and Lerry at Wilson McHenry Co. in the late 1990’s.
Gigaom was a passion project for Malik, who wrote last night on his personal site:
“Business, much like life, is not a movie and not everyone gets to have a story book ending… I might have left Gigaom, the company, over a year ago, but Gigaom, the idea still lives in my heart. Goodnight sweetheart, I still love you!”
I remember the early, ebullient days of Gigaom – back in 2007, when Malik and team hosted its Pier Screenings events along the Embarcadero. The gatherings were an AB FAB blast, and one of our co-founders’ proudest moments was winning a Citizen Journalism Award for a self-produced piece on the world-famous San Francisco Gay PRIDE event earlier that summer. Judge Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) compared Celso Dulay to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, and Kara Swisher of WSJ and Re/code fame gushed that this was a new style of first-person journalism being born.
The media industry is a very tough business today. It reminds me of my summers growing up on my family’s cotton farm in Brownsville, Texas. There was so much work and care that went into blossoming and harvesting the white fluffy cotton in the late summer and fall. And while cotton filled a real need for people, as does journalism, falling prices and competition from larger, corporate farms made it very difficult to survive and thrive.
Unfortunately, the main revenue source for media companies in the form of traditional advertising has been gutted during the last decade. With the move to mobile formats, publishers make as little as 10 percent (according to some media industry pundits) compared to the same content in print format ten years ago. And now, with the democratized power of social media, there’s a very low cost of entry into becoming your own mini media powerhouse. Just like everyone taking photos w/ fancy software filters now diminishes the demand and price for professional photographers.
So, it’s with sadness that we bid adieu to Gigaom, its talented staff, and Malik’s dream.
Goodnight, sweetheart. We still love you.