Interesting things can happen when you're asleep. Sometimes I'm woken by my alarm and sometimes I'm woken by the echo of the shit hitting the fan somewhere. The fact that 90% of what interests me in the online world happens in the northern hemisphere means there are often big developments "overnight" my time. Although my Wordpress hit counter passed 20,000 before I went to bed. Woohoo!
Sometimes I feel disconnected from anything important living in what one former Prime Minister called "the arse end of the planet" but eventually I catch up. A quick glance at Technorati and the top blog posts on Wordpress this morning showed the blogosphere was abuzz over Rocketboom. Although I know next to nothing about Rocketboom I knew this was going to be "not good" for somebody.
I had previously read on Range's blog that Rocketboom presenter Amanda Congdon was on a week's holiday and my immediate guess was that all this attention meant that this was to be no temporary holiday. Maybe I'm conspiracy minded but I made the instant connection that all was not well in the land of booming rockets. It turns out Congdon has indeed left Rocketboom and everybody and their dog has an opinion (usually ill-informed) as to why it happened, how it happened and what will happen next, both to Rocketboom and Congdon.
And poor Robert Scoble continues to be mortified that people can be ignorant jerks. Bob, moderating your comments was the smartest thing you ever did. If I got 70 squillion visitors a day like you I'd probably moderate comments too. I have a more manageable number so this isn't necessary for me. The world is full of ignorant, loudmouthed fuckwits - the only thing that keeps most of them in check is that they're also gutless. Take away that barrier (i.e. the online world where they don't have to face anyone) and they'll get even worse. So don't let the mean people upset you Scobleizer, they are, by and large, worthless pieces of shit who aren't worth bothering about. But I have a prediction for you: one day you are going to really regret providing so much information about your family on your blog.
I'm not going to explore the ins and out of Rocketboom because, like I said, I don't know anything about it. I watched one "episode" (what the hell is the right word in this context? Are these podcasts? Vodcasts?) in the past and that was because it was featured in a post I was reading on Chartreuse's blog. I thought it was funny and well done but I don't really have the time or focus at the moment to devote to other people's work. This whole blog may reek of brainfart but I actually put a shitload of work into it. Coupled with my day job and occasionally catching up with friends' blogs (which I know I don't do enough) I don't have a lot of space for new things.
I know lack of knowledge is rarely a limiting factor on blogs (myself included) and in fact sensible people recognise that lack of knowledge is the primary fuel for blogs. So although I appreciate a good soap opera acted out in real life as much as the next loser, the specifics of the Rocketboom story are not what interests me the most. What interests me are the business aspects, because on top of everything else it may have meant to various people, Rocketboom was just that - a business. There seems to have been a 51%-49% ownership deal between Congdon and her partner (Congdon owned 49%) so what this split means in business terms is anyone's guess.
Speaking as someone in the early throes of developing his own digital media empire, you gotta be careful what business deals you make. This is a one-man show at the moment. I have no idea if that is ever going to change but I know this: you would be very foolish to enter into any significant venture without a contract that clearly stated who owned what and who could exploit what (or who) and in what ways. Building a startup with your best friend may seem like a good idea but if you think you'll never be butt-fucked by somebody you thought you could trust, well, you don't have much business experience, do you?
If you can feel the bitterness creeping in, yes, I have been burnt before. A bad business "partnership" that ended up costing me about $40,000 arguably because of theft by my business partner. This was a nasty financial hit for me, one I'm only now recovering from. Small on the scale of many business disasters but still a scary amount of money to me and many other people. The personal cost was far worse but that's in the past now too. And I'm sure this fucker is going to burn in hell for what he did to me.
From a purely self-interested point of view (thinking about my potential future), I'll be interested to see how this whole Rocketboom drama plays out. Will either party benefit from this? Who will have the brighter future: Congdon the personality or Rocketboom the brand? What lessons, if any, will be learned from this? This is fame on an incredibly micro-scale. In real terms practically nobody knows who Amanda Congdon is and practically nobody has seen Rocketboom. But it could make for a very interesting uncontrolled experiment.
Because there are too many variables at play, it will be impossible to draw any absolute conclusions from this affair. Anybody who has had any experience in media or performance will know that the outcomes for both Congdon and Rocketboom could be affected by the quality of writing available to them, the quality of performances, perception of personality, strength of brand and pure dumb luck. Expect to see lots of sage, after-the-fact wisdom and pontificating on this matter from many quarters.