‘Always On Network’ is all ways old
Wednesday, March 12th, 2003
Tony Perkins, former editor of fat and failed Silicon Valley magazine Red Herring, got some nice ink recently for his new online publication, the Always On Network.
Perkins was featured in a Fortune last month as “a bellwether for technology journalism.”
Blogging has proven the vitality of participatory journalism, said Perkins. “Now there are people like me coming along and trying to figure out how to package it,” Perkins said. “It’s time to take it to the next level.”
Funnily enough, Perkins “next level” looks a lot like the “last level”… a curious recursion to the ancien regime.
First, while blogs are wonderfully transparent and easy to parse, the AO Network is damn confusing. The headlines are overblown… in font and pretense. The section categories are overbaked. (And there’s something about dumping all your personal details into Salesforce where advertisers can access it.)
Yes, Perkins has made a valiant stab at “hubness“… he’s tapped all his Silicon Valley connections and tried to pull them into the site. But this thing is organic as vinyl siding.
Today’s Always On top post has this catchy headline in 30 point type: “Sony’s Idei Part Three” and this vacuous subhead “In a rare and incredibly candid interview, Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation, tells AlwaysOn what he really thinks. Here is Part 3 of this three-part series.”
But that’s not the worst: the Interview was conducted in January at Davos, Switzerland. So nothing new has happened since then? This is blogging? No, this is publishing at its worst: big names, expensive places, inflated ideas… old news.
If the copy is old, the business plan is mummified. Sure, Perkins brags that he spent only $150 on a pMachine license, but he spent another $50,000 on development. He’s got 4.5 people on staff.
He’s got FAT advertisers — Accenture, KPMG, technology-oriented law firm Gray Cary, and the Silicon Valley Bank — old economy behemoths aping nu-economy mores. Selling premium sponsorships to those folks takes wining and dining (or old friendships), which is not a scalable business.
Great to see Perkins headed in our direction, but he’s built an (relatively) expensive and rigid infrastructure and business model before he’s built an audience. He’s not in a good position to duck and dive, tweak and twirl. It’s gonna be tough to keep the network “always on.”
Lesson for thin media infopreneurs: the key to a big ROI is keeping the “I” denominator small.