Is Streem just Scopical take two?

Is Streem just Scopical take two?

Summary: When I wrote about Sydney-based social news start-up Streem earlier this week, the group was less than forthcoming about the real history behind its operations.

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When I wrote about Sydney-based social news start-up Streem earlier this week, the group was less than forthcoming about the real history behind its operations.

The old Scopical website

Last week Streem spokesperson Elgar Welch, representing his company as "Streem", told me the group had on 15 July this year launched its Streem.com.au site with support from a number of private investors, who had seen the writing on the wall when it came to traditional media.

What Welch neglected to mention was that it wasn't the first time his group had tried this sort of thing. It turns out Streem is at least the group's second attempt to generate an Australian news site using content that appears to be sourced primarily from wire services and reader contributions, with some from in-house staff and other sources.

The last time round, their site was called "Scopical". Internet references to the site, which looks virtually identical to Streem, abound, as it appears that Welch and his team had been publicising the site quite heavily when launched in mid-2007.

Streem spokesperson Elgar Welch
(Credit: OhMyNews.com)

For example, Scopical had posted this extensive comment on the personal blog of Hugh Martin, a leading Australian thinker in the field of online news media. Martin is currently the general manager at APN Online and is the former editor of News.com.au.

The comment reveals Scopical was based on pretty much the same social news premise as Streem. However, when I spoke with Welch earlier this week he didn't mention anything about a previous site or the Scopical name.

You can get more information about Welch, including his full profile and some of Scopical's plans, here.

Today Welch told me Scopical had been doing very well, but had been shut down as his group decided to focus on a new site, Streem. He denied the two sites were very similar, saying they differed in technology and editorial line. Welch also said Scopical might come back at some point.

However, the fact that Streem (or is it Scopical?) didn't disclose anything about what appears to be previous attempts to create a social news site bodes badly for the start-up. Going to market with a similar premise twice in a very short period of time isn't exactly a way to instil confidence in people.

Welch might well be, as he says, launching different brands from the same company. But if that's the case, why didn't he disclose this earlier, and why is his company using extremely similar marketing materials for the Streem launch to those it used for the Scopical effort 12 months ago?

There is a lesson here for other Australian start-ups. If you want to get publicity about your efforts, you need to deal honestly with the media. Otherwise you could get burnt.

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10 comments
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  • ??

    Renai,

    Seriously man .... who cares? I personally have visited Streem and find the site very user friendly and in fact really like it! Whether or not I would deviate from ninemsn, smh or the daily telegraph website, is questionable. But good on Mr Welch and his team for thinking outside the square!

    I think Renai, you are looking WAY too hard at something, which at the very least, gives people a choice!

    Last I heard, you worked in mainstream media and the big guys, no wonder here you are trying to 'burn' them, as you so delicately put it!

    AND … this has been your top story for a couple of days now …. don’t you guys have anything else to report??

    Cheers
    Marcus
    anonymous
  • Don't Spoil It

    Hi Renai,

    Your follow up article on Streem seems more about attacking than analysing!

    (I've never even been to the Streem website so don't have an opinion about them either way.)

    Your idea of rating startups is a novel one and caught my interest. Part of the interest it that you are going to cope enormous amounts of flack with every BUST rating since you're basically writing off someone's dream, time and money not just their job.

    If the ratings you are giving come from impartial analysis then that's something I find interesting. If the ratings are driven from somehwere else, which I'm now wondering about given the tone of this followup, then I can see this good idea becoming just another blog designed to settle a few scores. That's something not very interesting, tech writers shouldn't do soaps!

    Regards.
    anonymous
  • Looking too hard

    hi Marcus,

    thanks for your criticism! I appreciate it.

    I'm certainly not trying to burn Elgar and the team over at Scopical, and I can assure you there is no hidden agenda, so to speak.

    However, as ZDNet.com.au covers the start-up sector, we will be reporting fully and fairly on the companies involved, and taking them to task when they don't disclose highly relevant information about what they're doing and so on.

    We will apply the same standards to startups as we will the other companies we cover (eg Microsoft, Telstra and so on).

    Cheers,

    Renai
    anonymous
  • Bust

    hi there,

    thanks for the criticism, I appreciate it!

    I'm certainly not looking to settle any scores -- just to report as much as I can find about the truth in what's happening in Australia's start-up sector :)

    I'm not aware that I have any scores to settle!

    The bootstrappr blog will not just profile and analyse new start-ups. That would limit our appeal! It will also report news, comment on what's happening with startups, and so on. Just like any other start-up blog around. I'm sure you can think of a few.

    The difference with bootstrappr is that it will only focus on Australian start-ups.

    And just to get things straight: I am a completely impartial journalist. I hold no shares or other investments in any company and work only as the News Editor of ZDNet Australia, nobody else.

    My opinions and commentary, as published, are only my own! :)

    Cheers,

    Renai LeMay
    anonymous
  • sham

    come on... this isn't news, a blog or any kind of analysis, this is just you bullying a startup company.

    part of starting a company (if you've done one, not sure?) is to believe in something and to also share the positives, rather than consistently highlighting the negatives.

    you also need to be mindful of the people involved in these companies. im sure they can take it, but you shud probly think these things out a bit more before you write them down.

    i agree that it's good to assess these things, but this company was hardly misleading anyone. i've used both scopical and streem - yes, some of the content is the same but the actual idea is a bit different.

    i dont think you've done your research on this one mate.

    sorry. good luck with the blog - find sumthing more interesting next time tho, :-)
    anonymous
  • What a story!

    This should really be on the front page of The Oz...
    Renai, you say that startups need to be honest, but I have re-read this "story" 3 or 4 times and am yet to find anywhere that he hasn't been honest.
    You asked him about the old site and he told you they decided to shut it down and concentrate on a new site.
    And, gasp, this seems to be exactly what they have done! Maybe it is similar to the old one, but really, who cares?
    anonymous
  • Not a blog?

    "this isn't news, a blog or any kind of analysis"

    this is in the blog section. i think that makes it a blog. any chance you are the chief marketing man from Streem?
    anonymous
  • Renai

    What are you talking about?
    This is ridiculous
    anonymous
  • Its all news

    I think there is nothing wrong with this article, and for someone to tell me they shut down a site because it was doing well is a crock. No one shuts down something doing well. You shut it down because of the opposite but I am sure you can figure that out for yourself.

    And if the shutting down of the previous site was because it was doing so well, then you would be using that data to launch the new one . . . if the last one did X, this one is going to do 2X.

    All these opinions read like they are from employees of Streem ;)
    anonymous
  • Your true colours Mr. LeMay!

    While you've been busy "burning" Mr. Welch with your suggestive narrative on why he's a shonk and has no place in the Aussie startup landscape, we got to find out what really motivates you as a journalist. Well done Renai!
    anonymous