It would seem we are entering a second wave of blog empire building. Nick Denton’s little cadre of blogs has been on the decline of late signalling a slowing amongst the 2003/4 generation. Yet, picking over their bones, is a new series of blogpire wannabes, like the rapidly expanding Crunchpire and GigaOmpire.
Dan Farber, over at ZDNet, writes about this phenomenon as being Publishing 2.0 — a big call. It will be interesting to see how Michael Arrington and Om Malik get on with their expansive moves. Michael started with Techcrunch and has since rapidly grown his stable with the additions of Mobilecrunch, Crunchboard (jobs) and Crunchgear (which employs John Biggs, who used to writed for Nick’s Gizmodo blog).
Reading through some of the comments from Techcrunch readers, the reaction to the expansion has been at two ends of the spectrum – those who love it are clearly glomming onto Michael as a trusted commentator and are prepared to continue to give him and his team their attention. While others are vociferously opposed to this ‘dilution’ of the Techcrunch focus.
There is nothing wrong with expanding a true big brand into other horizontals — this is how Richard Branson’s Virgin empire grew. We tried this back at First Tuesday (Nick may recall this, although he had more or less checked out and moved onto other things by then), setting up Wireless Wednesday, building a jobs board and more.
The trick is in keeping the brand intensity up by sharpening focus and enhancing existing user loyalty, while reaching out to new audiences. Not easy, but doable.
I wish them luck with these endeavors and will be watching closely.