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OSM + Pajamas + $3.5M != 9rules

Written by Scrivs on November 29, 2005

I can’t say I know how familiar everyone is with the disaster that is Pajamas Media, but if you do a search in Technorati or simply read my partner Mike Rundle’s rants over at Business Logs you should get a clear understanding of the mess they have created. Admittedly I get a bit nervous whenever any new type of content network starts because they usually start with big names and lots of money and Pajamas was no different. Then I read this blogjam session by some of the Editorial Advisory Board (who in the hell needs that?) and just sat there dumbfounded as they tried to define their company and the blogosphere.

Let me pull some choice quotes and see if I can follow with some commentary.

I think that overall the Pajamas / OSM operation has relied too much on the services of consultants and experts. They know stuff, but the results tend to be, well, corporate and sterile. And don’t even start me on the “branding” experts. I hope the check hasn’t cleared yet. . . . .

I didn’t even know companies still went to branding experts let alone companies whose business model revolves around blogs. Shouldn’t you ask the people involved what they think the brand should be and go from there?

Getting back to Pajamas means getting back to our roots. That would include the feel and structure of a homepage–smart but revolutionary, rebellious.

Hmmm, getting back to your roots when you just started? Doesn’t sound like a good thing. A smart but revolutionary homepage? Rebellious even? Wonder where you could find that?

On the other hand, the fact that so many people harshly criticized these decisions tells me three very encouraging things: it tells me that a lot of people are paying attention, that they are already invested enough to want to see a change that reflects their Platonic Ideal of a blogger-based enterprise, and that Roger and Charles have precisely the right attitude, which they demonstrated by responding quickly and positively. To me this says that PJM is going to be what it was meant be: a blogger driven undertaking shaped to the greatest possible extent by the interests and preferences of bloggers themselves.

I think so many people harshly criticized it because it was a lot of important people getting together with a lot of money and screwing up and the people who criticized are wondering why they weren’t given the $3.5M in Monopoly money to play with. How can you be a blogger driven undertaking with an advisory board, excluding all your bloggers in this exclusive conversation, and just doing what every other mainstream media outlet does? You can’t fake a brand and you can’t fake trying to be blogger driven when you aren’t.

Yes, I think we should be a portal to the blogosphere, not another MSM entity. And I think that the content should be much bloggier, with the emphasis on sending traffic out to blogs of all sorts.

Seriously, I have seen this somewhere before…

Is what Pajamas needs to do any different from what bloggers already do? And while our site needs to be perhaps a bit more complex, why not incorporate elements already held as favorites by the bloggers? It should be familiar, and flexible.

I think I am going to be sick. I know we aren’t that big yet, but it’s almost embarrassing that no one has pointed them into our direction and if they have why are they not mentioning us? I feel lonely.

James Lileks says the web is a conversation, and I’d like to see more of that, too.

Haha, okay when you have to quote someone else to know that the web is a conversation that lets me know that you really have no idea what is going on, whether you want to be a blogger-based company or not.

Now the chances of 9rules ever receiving as much coverage as Pajamas Media is slim simply because we don’t have the “people” for it. We just don’t have the connections, which I don’t mind that much, but seeing a company get $3.5M only to waste it on a launch party and trying to figure out who they are and what the blogosphere is like simply bothers me. Give us $3.5M and watch what we can do. Hell look at what we did from scratch with nothing (I know, I know, not much to some of you).

Lately I have been thinking about what we are doing and how it is effecting some of the people we get involved with. It’s nice to think that in the future if 9rules doesn’t make us rich that we can still look back and say we made a small dent on our corner of the web and hopefully made some changes to the way people think about the web. I know the day that I announce 9rules has made $x amount of dollars will be the day people outside of our community start to take notice and I’m in no rush for that to happen as fun as that day will be.

We didn’t need $3.5M to understand what we wanted to do. We didn’t need to hire outside consultants to build us up. We didn’t need to find the most popular bloggers out there to hype us. We really are a company that wants to help everybody that deserves it. From the sites that get 5 people a day to those that get 5 million every site in our Network has equal standing.

Give us $3.5M and that still won’t change. If you run a qualit political blog and want to represent part of something that goes against Pajamas then shoot us an email and we can start to build up our political niche. At least you will be part of something where the people know where they are going.

If you would like a little more insight as to how people feel about Pajamas make sure to checkout these entries:

  1. Marco Says:

    I understand your sentiments. The millions-of-dollars-craziness surrounding companies that attempt to ‘exploit’ the hype of bloggin makes me want to vomit as well.

    I believe it’s all a matter of ‘who is going to have the longes breath’. Once the hype slows down and the dust settles these ‘enterprises’ will probably have exploded while the 9rules network will still be here, florishing.

    And who knows, maybe some investor will actually understand what you guys are doing and throw some cash your way as well, without trying to turn the 9rules network into a faceless cash-cow of course.

    Side note: I still completely fail to understand why on earth any blogger would want to blog for a network such as the one described in this essay. Have your site owned, your content owned, well.. just about everything owned by a network run by people in suits with shiny dollar signs in their eyes.

    Nah… not for me, for sure.

  2. karmatosed Says:

    Pyjamas proving that no matter how much money you throw at something it does not equal success. I think it only goes to prove even more what you have done and what you stand for. If the bananas in pyjamas even bothered to check out the competition – is it me or is that the first rule of any business pretty much – then they would have not bothered and used the money for something more useful such as retiring and giving people who can do the job a chance.

  3. Colin Devroe Says:

    This reminds me of what Adam Curry said in a podcast right after he got funding for Podshow. I think the quote goes something close to “Now we are brainstorming to figure out what we will do with all of the money.”

    I realize, fully, that he was probably kidding and that he might have had a fairly good idea of what they wanted to do – but I really think Podshow is just a way for a few VCs to energize a growing market. Which is worth an investment, for sure – but those few companies that start the growth won’t be around very long.

  4. Mike Rundle Says:

    The Pajamas Folk strike me as absolute idiots, and not because they all run very right-wing blogs, but because they all gathered together to start Pajamas Media because they thought they were experts in the blogosphere. They thought they knew everything about reputation management but they ended up botching their reputation with some famous bloggers (Ann Althouse, etc.) months before they ever officially announced.

    When we started, we asked all of our friends in the design and weblog world to come along for the ride and trust us to make good decisions with their content. So far I think we’ve accomplished that. When Pajamas Media started, they brought along all of their friends, but then brought along like 80 other weblogs and started out with with an completely unnatural growth spurt of 80+ weblogs. They talk about being the bridge between weblogs and conventional media, and how their bloggers are the real heroes and content writers of their business, but then they don’t highlight any of them when they launched. They just didn’t care about the individual bloggers they have under them, only their “Editorial Board.”

    They talk about how they are organizing the troops, banding the bloggers together to fight against MSM, but they’re not banding anybody together since the blog community thinks their all idiots now. They have no clue about building a reputation in this industry — they thought they could just waltz right in with some big names and immediately garner the respect of the independent web, and fortunately they learned they screwed that up right away.

    Someone was just hired at Pajamas Media to deal with bloggers talking about them, and commenting on weblog posts to provide insight, and whatnot. I challenge that person to come here and explain how Pajamas Media expected to have the respect and trust of the independent web, when their launch disrespected many people including the open source movement itself. Please explain why Pajamas Media only seems to care about the blogs on their Editorial Board, and explain also why (if they’re trying to evangelize blogs and the two-way web) I’ve never seen one of their entries open for comments.

    I may be completely wrong in saying this, but I think that Pajamas Media strolled into this game thinking they had it won from the get-go, and then got their asses handed to them because they didn’t know everything they presumed they knew. The weblog world’s voice isn’t dictated by Little Green Footballs or other right-wing political blogs that get millions of people, it’s a voice that’s spread out across every single weblog in the world that gets 5 readers instead of 5 million. Our power is in mass and numbers, and Pajamas Media doesn’t care about the actual independent web or the actual weblog world any more than they care about the Open Source Media radio show company they took a shit on when they launched.

  5. Mark Wade Says:

    Scrivs,

    Mike said it better than I could :-)

    I’ve been following this also and I’ll K.I.S.S. for me.

    I believe that it goes to prove the point that folks like these are “legends in their own minds” which, in reality, makes them absolutely no more important than anybody else (which is as it should be).

    And – in the “grand scheme” of the reality of today’s world, what the heck is 3.5 mil anyway? Just a drop in the bucket.

    9rules is so MUCH MORE a REAL community of people helping each other! Think about it – we really know each other so little yet seem always willing to be there for someone else in the network. The overall goodness of THAT reality completely and totally overshadows something like OSM! Worth far, far more than 3.5 mil!

    Try this – read that “stuff” again and think to yourself “I wonder how these people really feel about this.” I personally have read it and I see a lot of folks probably dying on the inside whilst trying to maintain a good “image” for those of us outside (and doing a da** lousy job of it).

    Phffffft…. they just ain’t worth it. And 9rules IS!

  6. Chris Coleman Says:

    My impression of Pajamas media from the start was to be a challenge to liberal blogs like Eschaton and Daily Kos. I think it’s fairly accepted as fact that the left side blogosphere was beating the pants off the right in terms of quality content and community.

    The pajamas Editorial Board seems like a way to keep on message, but the nature of blogs simply doesn’t work under tight editorial oversight.

    The question of “are bloggers journalists” isn’t an easy one to answer, and it’s really something that you have to look at on a case-by-case basis. The reason blogs have exploded is because there is nobody telling them what to say and what not to say. In a proper newsroom, there are editors to serve as QC. Opinion, quality opinion, doesn’t work quite that way.

    When you put tight controls on voices like bloggers, it is no longer opinion, it is propaganda.

    It would be great to have civil discourse on both sides of the political spectrum, but when the right offers up clownshoe ideas like changing the network’s name to something that’s already taken in an attempt to build mindshare with an innocent-sounding name, you get nowhere.

    Pajamas tried to organize and drown out the left, but they failed to realize that people hate it that. By trying to become the big guy, they became the bully, and lost any mindshare they may have had.

  7. Volkher Hofmann Says:

    “Pajamas Media” is the absolutely dumbest possible name for this outfit.

    The rest I have an easy time ignoring.

  8. Benedict Says:

    Note to wannabe smartarses: invoking the notion of a “Platonic Ideal of a blogger-based enterprise” makes you sound like a pretentious idiot and will only make you sound clever to other pretentious idiots.

  9. Daniel Nicolas Says:

    “Hell look at what we did from scratch with nothing”

    You created something for the sake of creating something.

    It’s like people who blog and when one asks, why do you blog? they’re puzzeled as if it’s a question of why the moon is made of cheese.

    Mark is right on the money.

  10. Anechoic Room Says:

    Dead Horse Opera; scene 14 …… Breakfast is Served.

    The 9rules Network gets all objective and sh*t (the word of the day. There will be a test afterwards). OSM + Pajamas + $3.5M != 9rules

  11. Chris Says:

    I think it’s clear that PM overlooked the most critical aspect of your typical blog-reader. Although I haven’t conducted a study, I would bet my bottom dollar that people who are avid blog readers are simply more intellectual (by nature) than the general public.

    Sure, maybe you can launch a company with a bunch of fanfare in the mainstream and achieve initial success…but what happens when your target audience is not only savvy but also demanding? Blog readers are a VERY picky bunch, and I think the idea that you enter the game as the top dog is simply ludicrous.

    Clearly, I’m not alone here – I swear I don’t think I’ve read one good thing about OSM PM whatever the hell it is.

  12. HART (1-800-HART) Says:

    I read more ‘about’ OSM/P.M. than I do from their site. I mean it. I am subscribed to their RSS feed .. and, I think I get maybe 1 entry per day? For the fun of it, I also subsribed to an individual RSS feed from one of its members, and there is more than 1 entry per day. I watch. I follow. I read about it. But, I still don’t know what they are doing. Although, there was a nice picture of their huge empty office space with tons of desks and nice computer screens on each desk on their site somewhere. >> That’s good. At least they have something to spend their money on.

  13. Christian Montoya Says:

    I was waiting for your thoughts on this Scrivs. This thing is a joke. Especially the name “Open Source Media” … didn’t they know that name is kinda used already???

    Just goes to show you have to know the world of blogging before trying to do something with it.

  14. The Business of America is Business Says:

    Airing Your Pajamas in Public

    No sooner I started reading the Pajamas Media Blogjam, “What should Pajamas Media be?”, than did come to mind the old adage about not airing one’s laundry in public. But like so many of my first impressions, this one…

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