Two of the most financially successful Web 2.0 personalities, Michael Arrington and Jason Calacanis, are rooting for the financial failure of their competitors.
Calacanis warns the newspaper industry at his blog:
In another 18-24 months newspapers are gonna hit the bottom and I think I'm gonna swoop in and try and buy one, build out the online portion, and buy a local TV station to go with it.
Arrington warns the blogosphere at BusinessWeek:
I'm hoping everything crashes…Then I want to go buy all the big blogs.
Calacanis’ and Arrington’s desires to profit from the misfortunes of others in the spaces in which they operate are not surprising. As each moves more aggressively, each is reaping more and more financial gains.
Calculated cynicism, enveloped in populist veneers, appears to be part of the magic formula of both Arrington and Calacanis.
Arrington is the everyman of the Web 2.0 weekend software developers while Calacanis is the go-to, “lovable” entrepreneurial bulldog.
Although Arrington mocks Nicholas Carr today for his characterization of the blogosphere as “a grand system of patronage,” his own TechCrunch success is due to the minions of Web 2.0 start-up hopefuls paying homage to his “crunchness” with the goal of obtaining a moment in the 2 million page view monthly TechCrunch limelight.
For Carr, the blogosphere is operated by “a tiny, self-perpetuating elite” catered to by “blog peasants”:
A blog-peasant, one of the Great Unread, comes to the wall of the castle to offer a tribute to a royal, and the royal drops a couple of coins of attention into the peasant's little purse. The peasant is happy, and the royal's hold over his position in the castle is a little bit stronger.
Both Arrington and Calacanis self-perpetuate their elite status via aggressive (some would say link-baiting) personal blog posts.
Today, Arrington asked “Is Nick Carr the new Robin Hood, or just an Asshole?” while Calacanis recently noted "I'm sorry, does Mike Arrington work for free?" and “Kevin Rose: The Users shouldn't be paid... but I'll take $60M*”
The calculated public sparring engaged in by both Arrington and Calacanis reaps enormous "peasant attention” (readership) and “peasant tributes” (links) from servile, but hopeful, fellow bloggers.
Both Arrington and Calacanis ought to be careful what they wish for. Demise of competition may result in lack of attention paid, the currency on which the success of their Web kingdoms depend.