Weblogs, Inc is Doing Well Under AOL
Weblogs, Inc, the blog network founded by Jason “I’m not blogging anymore” Calacanis, is doing well under AOL’s ownership. In a presentation, published by TechCrunch on Docstoc, they show massive growth since 2005. Just to illustrate, in 2005 Weblogs, Inc had a estimated revenue of $6 million and 4 employees. In 2008, the same numbers are $30 million and 26 employees. Add a massive traffic increase, with a unique visitor growth of 994% between October 2005 and August 2008, and the success story that is Weblogs, Inc just seems all the more impressive.
Of course, the growth is possibly due to the fact that the blogosphere by itself have had a massive growth during this period as well, with blogs going mainstream and getting the recognition they deserve (and sometimes don’t), but numbers are numbers, and they generally don’t lie.
Check out the full presentation for more number crunching. It’s just 10 pages and mostly pictures, so it’s very accessible. It also shows how much larger Weblogs, Inc is when compared to both Gawker Media’s network, and b5media.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.
The real growth is due to AOL showcasing the content to its hundreds of millions of users. Not that the team doesn’t deserve kudos, because they do (!), but it’s not like it’s an insulated organization within AOL (like some teams) that have to do everything on their own :)
That’s not entirely true. The 2 biggest brands — Engadget and Joystiq (and their spinoffs) — almost never see Welcome Screen or AIM Today placement and are not featured prominently within other AOL channels. Autoblog gets WS very occasionally, TUAW and Download Squad extremely rarely. The vast majority of the AOL showcasing went to the lifestyle blogs which were shunted away into other divisions and should no longer even be counting towards these stats. TVSquad, Cinematical, and the finance blogs (Blogging Stocks and WalletPop) do see some Welcome Screen love and have some AOL channel tie-ins but these sites do not account for anywhere near the majority of overall growth.
That’s funny, cause Engadget/Autoblog and there are links on the homepage *right now* for WalletPop and BloggingStocks. AOL.com has always had links to WIN properties, particularly Engadget during CES and other major events.
Also, *all* weblogs, inc. blogs count towards those stats (look the comScore slides and I’ve just run a report to confirm this as well).
It’s not that the bloggers haven’t earned the traffic they’ve gotten, it’s just that they’ve had some help along the way :-)
Having been a member of the Engadget team covering CES over the past few years I can tell you firsthand about the paucity of linklove from the AOL mothership during CES. In fact we were passed over many times on our original breaking coverage for linklove to later, slower coverage from Reuters et al — so the picture you’re painting still isn’t really accurate. This year there is finally some recognition with the Official Blog of CES business which is awesome and I hope the team finally gets the exposure they deserve from their own parent company this year — but it hasn’t been very rosy in the past and the example of CES you gave specifically is actually quite a counterexample.
As to current links on the homepage — as I mentioned above WalletPop and BloggingStocks do get them with more frequency than other sites on the network, but their overall traffic volume only accounts for a fraction of the overall Weblogs growth. You’ll also notice that the AOL Tech link goes to switched.com and not to Engadget and there are no persistent front page links to either Engadget or Autoblog (or Joystiq). I’m not trying to deny that there has been “some help” but I do not agree that the assessment of the *majority* of growth in the past 3 years is due to showcasing from AOL. Even the lifestyle sites that did receive the brunt of the linklove remain very small properties in comparison to the big WIN brands which is why Weblogs offloaded them to AOL channels.
Then even more kudos to the bloggers, you’d definitely know for a fact more than I would :)
Official press release:
The acquisition of Weblogs was game-changing for AOL and the entire blogging community,” said Marty Moe, Senior Vice President, AOL Money & Finance, News, Sports, Weblogs and KOL. “Weblogs pioneered the development of professional blogging, and AOL accelerated its growth and leadership in branded content publishing by deeply integrating Weblogs throughout AOL’s substantial network of programming channels. In doing so, AOL transformed its publishing model and increased its relevancy and reach for advertisers, while advancing best-of-breed sites in key consumer interest areas.”