Bayosphere, we hardly knew ye

Bayosphere, we hardly knew ye

Summary: Dan Gillmor has shuttered his citizen journalism startup, Bayosphere. It will be missed, but it also taught some valuable lessons, too.

TOPICS: Hardware

Dan Gillmor, one of the leading lights of the blogosphere and a pioneer in citizen journalism, has closed down his startup company, Bayosphere. He writes a thoughtful letter to readers and supporters, which is well worth a read.

For what it's worth, I think Dan does a great service with this posting, because it's painfully honest. Starting a company is hard, startingThe mistake was to take the Silicon Valley path, because geek investors still think writing is easy. a profitable media company out of the chute is almost impossible, unless there's nudity involved.

He is right that his main mistake was to take the Silicon Valley path, because the technology and consultatively oriented investment approach isn't as patient, mainly because geeks think that writing isn't hard. After all, there's no design and development phase when a company has an excuse for making no money. You just write and, supposedly, as with a new gadget, revenue flows.

The problem is that the citizen journalism process hasn't found the interface to making money, though it certainly will someday. What Dan learned and writes about in his farewell posting is helping get us there. I can't wait to see what he does next at the Center for Citizen Media. In the meantime, learn from Dan.

Topic: Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • There is still a role for citizen media in SIlicon valley

    I disagree Mitch, there is a role for citizen media combined with professional media, and what I call "smart-machine" media (e.g. Citizen media has been looked upon as a way to get content for nearly free--and that is no way to value citizen media.

    Combine it with the other two forms of media and you have an entirely new type of media entity, imho. That could be very interesting.
    • I wondered about that....

      when I saw your piece. I'd like to see a movie called Steve Disney
      and his Fantastical Jobs Machine (which would make a pretty
      good story, though it would have to be about cloning Steve to
      really sing?and animated by Pixar).

      I agree you can combine different forms of media and
      distribution technology, as well as new gathering technology, to
      get something fantastic, but I was making specific reference to
      the psychology of Valley money. It is too tech-centric in its
      thinking, prefering channel over content. I saw this at ON24,
      which turned off a growing news audience to get a services
      business that still hasn't come close to recouping its costs while
      the main competitor was sold for a half-billion dollars, and as a
      member of the board of Electric Classifieds/ when we
      decided to sell Match to focus on the technology.

      I think the Valley needs to change a lot to accommodate content
      plays and that Steve Jobs is an exception to so many rules (he is
      the best tech entrepreneur of his day because he would make
      any business fly) that he is a fine model for such a change.

      And, yes, there absolutely is a role for citizen media in Silicon
      Valley. I don't think I wrote that and do not want to be
      understood to be saying that. First tries often don't get far and
      Dan did a great thing trying that first step.
      Mitch Ratcliffe
      • "Any" business fly?

        "I think the Valley needs to change a lot to accommodate content plays and that Steve Jobs is an exception to so many rules (he is the best tech entrepreneur of his day because he would make any business fly) that he is a fine model for such a change."

        Umm... NeXT? Let's see, Steve Jobs has been involved with three companies that I am aware of:

        * Apple once controlled a massive amount of the market. Within about five years lost nearly all of it. Despite the success of a new product (iPod), will never realistically make large inroads into computers again. This is like if GM went to 5% of market within five years, but then became the largest maker of lawn mowers or something.

        * NeXT was dying on the vine when Apple saved them. The product itself was great, but there were a lot of management mistakes, many of which were solely Steve Job's fault.

        * Pixar is a success.

        So you think one out of three is a good batting average? Jobs is a brilliant product designer and technologist. He is a pretty lousy business person. What I would love to see is a Steve Ballmer/Steve Jobs duet. Jobs could sing the product design high notes, and Ballmer can play bass by running the business like a wild gangster.

        Besides, it would make great headlines... "Steve Ballmer assualts Steve Jobs with an office chair, film at 11".

        Justin James
        • Yes, any business

          By "any" business, I mean that Jobs has the determination and
          patience to make a business fly. Pixar, which he bought for $10
          million, sells for $7.4 billion, which is far more than a success.
          It's a 700-foot home run. NeXT was acquired, at least, which is
          not a failure.

          And Apple may not hold a massive share of the PC market, but it
          never did?the Wintel PC has always led by a huge amount since
          there was a consumer, as compared to enthusiast, market for
          computers. There was also that long Sculley/Spindler
          interregnum, too. Instead, Jobs has aimed at the Porsche niche
          and managed to expand beyond it -- they picked up a lot of
          share last year, for a company that started with so little. The
          iPod has overwhelmed the portable music market.

          So, it looks more like he's four-for-four (if you include
          resurrecting the Mac and the iPod as separate efforts).

          That ain't bad, even if he isn't perfect?he's far from it?but it
          does attest to his ability to make companies succeed.
          Mitch Ratcliffe