A Noble Failure: Gigaom Crashes

Written by David Michaelis

To remain competitive in the ever-changing world of digital publishing, we must learn from the failures of companies like Gigaom. Innovation is key.

aNewDomain — Knowing what doesn’t work is almost as important as learning what does when it comes to digital projects. Gigaom ceased operations this week, citing an inability to pay its creditors in full. Did Gigaom fail to live up to its promise? Did the big bad wolf of disruption blow down Gigaom’s carefully constructed house? According to Re/code’s Kara Swisher:

The site, which was one of the first prominent tech blogs to launch in 2006, has recently hired new management, including an interim CEO. It has, in recent years, focused on its more lucrative research business more than its Web news operations. Gigaom also does events.”

More than 6.5 million monthly unique readers turned to Gigaom to better understand major technology disruptions. Now, it seems, they’ll  need to get their tech news elsewhere.

Gigaom screenshot

The tech news field has become very crowded. With so many available content sources, it is becoming a desperate scramble to raise the necessary funds. Content publishers have reduced their prioritization of paid apps and are focused on exploring other potential revenue streams. Publishers are also looking for ways to add the “wow factor” to their work. Cartoons and clickbait headlines are a must, though sites like Medium show us that serious content can also be effective.

Remember that no industry has seen more disruption than media and publishing in last 10 years. Gigaom was aware of this upheaval and tried to find new revenue streams through professional tech conferences and research papers.

Gigaom was a pioneering media organization which suddenly found itself on the wrong end of its creditors. Perhaps the problem was poor cash flow management, or not realizing that video might be the flavor of the moment. Perhaps the problem was the shift to mobile consumption of news — which has been extremely disruptive to new media titles. Gigaom’s style didn’t fit Facebook’s news feed.


Tom Foremski, a valley observer, says:

One of the biggest disappointments of the Internet Age is that we still do not have a value-recovery mechanism for good quality media content. A click is a click is a click – but it’s not — some media content is much better than others. But we have no rewards mechanism to support the creation of more great media content.”

Founded nine years ago, Gigaom didn’t create a brand that Silicon Valley or consumers would pay for. In the past decade much has changed in the news business — information is now delivered to consumers through a host of channels including Twitter, Snapchat and others. “Innovate or die” is still a slogan I buy into.

An innovative cutting-edge approach is needed by all publishers in this field. There is still a big gap in finding the funds from an audience who is willing to pay and being an independent media organization. And those of us for whom independent media is crucial, we are still searching for the silver bullet.

For aNewDomain, I’m .

Screenshots courtesy of Silicon Valley Watcher and Tom Fishburne

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