Blog Stars

We had a discussion about "blog stars" in the comments to my post yesterday. Kid Mercury has been saying for as long I recall that niche communities are the future of the Internet. And he believes that niche communities are led by "blog stars".

So I asked him to name 10 "blog stars". And this is what he said:

1. fred wilson
2. heather armstrong (
3. kottke
4. jdawg (gotta admit it….you know i don't run from the truth boss)
5. mike masnick
6. dave winer
7. kanye west
8. richard macmanus
9. om malik
10. mike shedlock (

that's off the top of my head; there are many others …..

to clarify, blog stars
can simply be defined as independent media creators/publishers who have
created and continue to engage their own niche community. because of
the influence they hold over the community, they will have the assets
required to crowdsource labor and to make endorsements. their
relationship with their fans, if managed properly, can enable P2P
transactions as well. it is critical to note that when evaluating the
potential profitability of a blog star, we need to consider not only
the quality of the content they produce, but their governance/political
skills as well, as their influence must be used to manage/lead/inspire
the crowd.

there will be many blog stars in the near future,
as blog stars are the epitome of the "power to the people" nature of
the internet.

I was tempted to take my name off the top of the list, because that is not what this post is about. But I left it there because it would be weird to start with number two. And I think it's also true that this was not a "top ten" list, but simply a quick demonstrative list of what "blog stars" are.

I'll add a few more "blog stars" to Kid's list.  I enjoy and belong to these communities:

Gretchen Rubin

Jeff Jarvis

Howard Lindzon

Alan Patrick

John Battelle

Sarah Bunting

Please don't get upset if I left you off this list. It was not intended to be exhaustive, just instructive.

Blog stars are real people, not companies. You can't be a blog star if you blog for a company, unless it is your company (Om and Richard are examples of that kind of blog star). And the Kid says you have to operate a community on your blog. That is why Seth Godin is not a blog star in the Kid's definition. Honestly I struggle with the example of Seth because I think he is able to execute the "blog star" model even though he has no community on his blog.

I suspect there are thousands of blog stars operating in various sectors out there. It's an interesting model to study. I know how powerful it is already. If the Kid is right, it will become even more powerful in the coming years.


Comments (Archived):

  1. zerobeta

    Great post. A few months ago I blogged on how bloggers are the salespeople of the new, digital economy and I think networks and niche communities play an enormous role in this.Think about traditional salespeople. They are successful because of the network they have. People tend to buy from those the know, like, and trust, and blog stars are those people in the new digital economy.

    1. fredwilson

      well it was really a reblog of the Kid’s comment with some color commentaryfrom me.what’s interesting to me about blog stars becoming salespeople are the toolsthey’ll use to do that

      1. zerobeta

        I think an interesting tool would be an link shortener that serves as a referral ad system like commission junction – lets call it If I tweet or blog something about something I like I can just create a link and get paid a portion any sales made from any clicks. Basically taking the Amazon associates model and outsourcing it to one link referring system. You make it completely transparent so anyone can browse Fred Wilson’s links and how much he was paid.

        1. fredwilson

          it is called skimlinks and it works great wife uses it on her blogi don’t blog about products enough to make it worthwhile for me

          1. zerobeta

            Awesome I’ll check it out.

        2. howardlindzon

          zero, you are a star dude, people will see that soon.

      2. kidmercury

        yes, i wonder what tools blog stars will use. to me that is the big question, and i think there is a huge opportunity in creating the right tools. i’m still betting on the social CMS that pulls in all the cool APIs as being the ideal sales tool.

  2. Elie Seidman

    It would be great to hear your thoughts on how and why the AVC community came to be? What was it that you did to build community?

    1. fredwilson

      satish nailed it with his analysis of this yesterday…

      1. Elie Seidman

        ah yes – great comment. Which, to his point, had I been more engaged in the community, I would have caught the first time. Your seeds are fantastic – I’m amazed by how many good ones you come up with each month – but the value in the comments is truly unbelievable. It’s a salon that can’t be found anywhere else.

        1. fredwilson

          i can’t explain “the seeds” as you call themit’s like i wake up in the morning with posts in my head

          1. Elie Seidman

            Makes total sense to me. I realized that I really love what I do when I started to wake up in the morning with business strategy ideas.

  3. CarlosPero

    I can’t imagine leaving Gary Vaynerchuk off a list like this. Perhaps he’s excluded because he hasn’t run a traditional written blog, but he’s been a leader in video blogging and engaging the community. But there is something else that sets him apart too.Gary was able to connect with people through wine, something which not many other bloggers have such an authority in. Think about it: alcohol is one of the most intrinsic social items, and Gary was able to leverage that into the digital world and form modern social media connections. And beyond that, with the release of his book Crush It this week, he’s giving instructions to everyone how to try to become their own “blog star” if they are so motivated.

    1. fredwilson

      Gary is a blog star for sure. Remember I said the list wasn’t exhaustive,just instructive

  4. David Noël

    Kid is probably my favorite commenter here . Love how you always refer to him as the AVC bouncer.

    1. fredwilson

      he is the bouncer.i officially gave him that role a while back

      1. David Noël

        he owns it

    2. Taylor Davidson

      Kid’s comment was spot-on; I usually dig into posts just to find his comment :)Love the idea of communities around blogs as attractors of people with shared interests, values, etc; Kid’s notion of crowdsourcing labor from the community (directing attention and action) is the most interesting bit to me.

  5. ErikSchwartz

    One that seems now to be defunct that I enjoyed was Chartreuse.

    1. fredwilson

      he’s not defunct, just on “sabbatical”that is my wishful optimistic personality coming out Erik

  6. Ben Atlas

    Interesting list, some I like better than others, but the common thread is that these are your classic blogs. Each blog is published by a person who doesn’t hide his or her taste and personality. I think this what people are after, the humanity. People want to converse with a person not a bot. In this sense Seth belongs to this list because he does answer each and every email that people send him.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. seth is a blog star in my book too.

      1. Ben Atlas

        btw, jason kottke doesn’t have any comments and he is still on the list.

        1. fredwilson

          oh yeah, that’s righti think comments are a tricky onewhen someone is as good as seth or jason, they may be able to get awaywithout them

      2. paulmunsch

        I agree with Seth being a blog star. His community happens to share ideas/comments at the office water cooler, twitter, facebook etc. You don’t need comments on your blog to build a niche community.

  7. howardlindzon

    that howard really is good.

    1. fredwilson

      he’s also a good commenter on other blogs which is important in blog stardom

    2. bfeld

      I find Howard to be very self-referential.

      1. howardlindzon

        thats so howard

    3. kidmercury

      definitely better than jdawg, for sure

  8. awaldstein

    This thread to me is about leaders and groups, which are inextricably intertwined. Blog and internet platforms have made feasible the formation and power of the niche community. Now that the world is flattened, more adjacent, more real time, groups can become communities with all the powers that The Kid implied. And I think these groups democratize the power of all the individuals in the groups. That’s the real shift.

  9. techgolem

    Seems to me, Louis Gray has to be on such a list, I think he’s a star and has a community, also MG Siegler either in his day job at TechCrunch or even just as his own ParisLemon personna. I can see leaving off Gruber because he doesn’t allow comments on DaringFireball.

    1. fredwilson

      yupboth of them are blog stars

  10. William Mougayar

    Another factor I would add is originality and authenticity. Readers are attracted to that.The footprint of blogs and influence of bloggers are increasing exponentially. This is the new media. We’re seeing the “atomization of content” at play.Each sector has its own power bloggers. What is also common to them, is that it takes a lot of consistency and repetitive behavior. These don’t become blog stars overnight, as Fred would probably attest. You have to blog day in and day out.

    1. William Mougayar

      Weird, Disqus replaced my pic with company logo. I’ll have to look into it.

      1. kidmercury

        fyi, i am seeing your pic

        1. William Mougayar

          Thanks. I had to go back and change the settings.

  11. LIAD

    blog-star orientated communities often revolve directly around the blog-star themself over and above the actual content. This blog for instance is a complete pick-and-mix, we the reader have no idea what we are going to get each day. If we were to map out the topics on this blog over the last 6 months, I’m sure the majority would not be directly related to tech/web/vc stuff (the topics perhaps which we initially joined the community for)-the only constant in this blog is Fred himself.He posts something on his mind and we chime in as we feel appropriate. (kind of cultish actually).The only issue is these things cant really scale – average post 200+ comments? the blog star actively replies to 50%+? – it wont be long before they have to give up their day job.

    1. fredwilson

      you are right that scaling is an issuethat said, i’ve been stuck at about 125k uvs for yearsand i can do one post a day and deal with the comments in less than an hourof total time spent

    2. kidmercury

      when i think of blog stars, i think of who is going to be able to generate a real income (and hopefully income for others) simply by blogging? they may have to give up their day job, but if they are a true blog star with blog star profit potential, it should be a winning trade for most.

  12. Helen Kurukulasuriya

    Hi Fred,I thought about that recently too, from a marketing persective, the “blog stars” as opinion leaders, customer advocates & through their example inspiring their audience.E.g in my real life community, getting xyz is very uncommon, but if one of my favorite bloggers mentions it, it enters my zone, it becomes “real”. There’s marketing power in this.

  13. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    Intriguing — and I see great similarities with the Wisdom of the Language (… ).The main difference is that here you (and the Kid) focus on persons — in other words personality, charisma, etc.In the Wisdom of the Language, the focus is on topics, issues, industries, fields of knowledge, etc. (broadly speaking: “semantics”):) nmw

    1. fredwilson

      i think its important to have a person and a personality in thesecommunities

      1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

        Totally agree – and I think anonymity is 100% over-rated. I have long advocated for transparency, and I see very little use in anonymous posts (for example, at times John Battelle’s blog is plagued with spammers posting anonymously).BTW: I just virtually picked up this book — I feel it might be a relevant read (in the context of “individuality”):

  14. Keenan

    “Please don’t get upset if I left you off this list. It was not intended to be exhaustive, just instructive.” I think it’s impossible to be exhaustive. If you’re right, and I believe you are, there will be 1000’s of blog stars. I believe there already are. Therefore, it is impossible to be exhaustive. Blog stars, with few exceptions, will be topic or subject oriented. There will be blog stars for Corvettes, for Quilts, just as there are today for VC’s (you) and the social web (Chris Brogan). I think this is exactly what makes it so special. Real people with a passion, intelligence, commitment and drive can influence every aspect of our lives. They can drive powerful communities, they wield tremendous influence, and shape their topic. You are spot on here Fred, but I think it’s even bigger than you are suggesting in this post.

    1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

      Interesting – if blog stars are topic / subject oriented, then where does the topic / subject come from?For example: In what way is this post about VC’s?

      1. fredwilson

        you are right, this post isn’t about VCsthese niche communities should have a subject in the center, but they shouldbe able to move around it a fair amount

      2. Keenan

        It is self-selected, people start by blogging what they know. This blog is called AVC because that is what Fred is. Much (not all, but much) is VC or start-up related.This post wasn’t. However, Fred has built his following from posts about startups and Venture Capital. He wouldn’t be Blog Star if these are the posts he started with. It’s his expertise that made him the star.

        1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

          yes, that way of putting words intoastringthatwasn’treallyaword worked for a while, so avc could be interpreted as “a vc”. That is no longer effective — something I predicted years ago, but which still will continue to become more and more ineffective as time goes on.If I were to go out on a limb, I would say that the entire financial industry will soon be found under .VC;D nmw

      3. kidmercury

        i think this post is kind of about VCs. broadly speaking, venture capital is just investing, so any conversation about finding profitable opportunities i think is quite relevant to a VC blog.

    2. fredwilson

      the kid agrees with you

  15. Ben Atlas

    Could one do more to discredit this list than include Kanye West here?

    1. fredwilson

      it’s the kid’s list

    2. kidmercury

      kanye is one of the best blog stars out there. shows up daily. focuses his blog on fashion (excellent brand building for a musician of his nature). the only missing ingredient is for kanye to start selling what he is endorsing. when a musician does that and executes it properly, i think there is a very good chance they’ll find a big new revenue stream in endorsements, one that is likely larger than what they were making from record sales. most musicians don’t have enough of a digital understanding yet (they need to read AVC!), but when they get there, i think they will be the most lucrative blog stars.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t because stocks and the market don’t interest me that much. But howard loves him. I agree. He’s a blog star

      1. Dave Pinsen

        You seemed pretty excited about that investing-related product one of your portfolio companies rolled out recently (the one where you can have a highly-rated investor make buys and sells in your personal account).

        1. Mark Essel

          Fred’s excited about what covestor could do to change the market, more than the market itself I suppose.If you catch the video with Fred & Howard not to long back Fred admits he’s not a heavy market player.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            What you say makes sense, when I think about it. Generally, the earlier you can invest in something, the more exciting it is. That’s why I like to invest in tiny companies that sort of use the public markets as a substitute for VC money. That way, it’s almost like being a play-at-home venture investor. In Fred’s case though, those sorts of stocks are probably too small for him to invest in, so investing in established stocks can’t be too exciting when compared to the prospects of his portfolio companies.On a day (Friday) when one of my little stocks — one that no one else was writing about a year ago — jumped 65%, I read a post on a popular investing site by a twenty-something guy about his DCF analysis on J&J. That’s the kind of stock I’ll read about if I have trouble sleeping.

          2. Mark Essel

            There are certain aspects that I find appealing about early stage investing. Dealing with a number of tiny businesses, a few small ones, and maybe a couple steam rolling ones, lead by folks who want to change the world. Getting a solid read off of, not only the business plan/concept, but more importantly the people involved. Answering the question, “can this team actually do it and build a successful business (with my help) against the odds?”But I could only honestly take on one venture at a time, and put every ounce of myself into it. Anything less, and I’d feel like I was short changing the businesses/founders chances. Businesses need a lot more than just money when starting out, they need customer development planning, marketing, direction, network connections. I’m not sure I could give all those jobs 100%, even to one business, let along multiple businesses.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Mark,The difference is that when you buy stock in tiny companies like these, you are a passive investor. You’re not expected to offer any of the assistance venture capitalists provide to start-up companies.Also, I should note that the most successful (so far) of the tiny companies I have invested in is run by a CEO in his 60s. He has done some impressive stuff with his company, but he brings more skills and experience to the table, I would think, than the typical whippersnapper who runs a venture-backed start-up. I think I mentioned this here before, but I’ll be posting his company’s answers to a series of questions on my blog next week. Some of those answers may shed some light on how his company has dealt with some of the challenges you mention above.

          4. Mark Essel

            Good point, I keep thinking of entrepreneur/startup as changing the world, but that’s something different. Most founders want to build something profitable/sustainable (if they’re smart).

          5. Dave Pinsen

            There is a changing the world aspect to entrepreneurship, you’re right about that. I think of the CEO I alluded to above as something like a real life Hank Rearden, and I’m sure it’s not just about the money for him. He’s invented a better mousetrap and he just got one of the largest companies in the world to sign a five year supply deal with him for those mousetraps.

        2. fredwilson

          Yes. Covestor and cvim. That’s because I don’t have to do anything with cvim. I’m a bad public market investor because trading stocks requires attention. I don’t need to give much attention to cvim

          1. Dave Pinsen

            I see what you mean now, but I think it’s worth making a distinction between trading and investing. Trading stocks does demand constant attention. But investing, not necessarily. What’s that quote by Buffett — if he’s really comfortable with a company, he wouldn’t mind if its stock stopped trading for ten years? I guess there’s a similarity between that and your day job, in that you don’t see quotes on your portfolio companies every day, and yet you are still comfortable owning pieces of them.

          2. fredwilson

            I pay attention to what our companies are doing every day, many times per day. And I have access to the CEO’s ear. That’s why I am comfortable being a long term investor in VCNot so much in public stocks

  16. Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon

    Steve Sailer is the most influential blog star that everyone in polite society pretends not to read.

  17. thewalrus

    blog stars = a new twist on democratically ‘elected’ representatives…..more direct, more diverse, more distributed and more fluid

    1. kidmercury

      i agree totally…well said

      1. BUTR

        I agree well said! I also agree with Fred Wilson that you don’t need a community to be a blog star and Seth Godin is the perfect example as is Bob Lefsetz. I am curious as to why these guys prefer to keep their community offline (via email) vs. growing it online as well in real time. I think they can continue to be very successful keeping it offline and closed, but wonder why they don’t do both?

        1. fredwilson

          lefsetz is another great example

  18. Seth Godin

    I’m so delighted to not be on this list. I never set out to be a star blogger, I’m just an author who blogs. I’d be a terrible community leader, if being a community leader means moderating electronic discussions.The semantics do matter a bit. I don’t think it’s productive to say one thing is a blog and one thing isn’t, so I’m pleased that you’re coining a new term here. Not sure ‘star’ is as illustrative a term as you could find, but it’ll do for now, I guess.Next thing you need to take on is whether or not this scales. It certainly is likely that there will be a long tail of these star communities, but how do you use this medium to have 5,000 active participants? Dunbar’s number will destroy it. Perhaps it becomes more like pub culture… lots of pubs in the UK, none with 5,000 people in attendance.

    1. kidmercury

      the scalability point is a major issue i have spent a lot of time thinking about. i think blog stars will unite to form mini blog networks. the content management system that enables this to happen is where i think some big money will be. open source social content management systems in particular (, are particularly promising, in my opinion. the supreme economic scarcity is not the blog star but rather the community. (although the blog star is an economic scarcity worth investing in in my opinion)

    2. Mark Essel

      Virtual pubs are a place where we can chat up some of the ideas you and other influencers generate. The idea itself can be fantastic, revolutionary, or extraordinary, but it’s the community dissection of the concept from multiple perspectives of expertise that make them so valuable to a reader like myself. Glad to see you here.Each of us has our own blog star list, that unique mix of influence and ideas helps define our own perspectives going forward. There’s a huge flood of content coming down the internet pipes, and I struggle to find time to be aware of the pearls that startle my expectations. Having super human filters helps a bunch.

    3. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

      “I think that the “wisdom of the language” will ultimately make the “wisdom of the crowds” superfluous — especially because language, unlike crowds, scales well”That’s from the article I cited earlier (it’s almost 3 years old, but perhaps even more relevant today than when I wrote it):…:) nmw

    4. BUTR

      Bloggers are the new rock stars and Seth, whether you like it or not, you are one of them! I don’t think you need to be a community leader or moderate your own blog if you don’t want to. But you do lead and inspire a crowd so that makes you a blog star. And you do manage relationships with your fans offline by responding to their emails. This alone is enough incentivization to make them go to your blog and buy direct-to-fan. I would rather buy directly from you (especially if you were offering a premium bundle) than go to Amazon. You are my trusted source, not Amazon. So my question is why not do both? Enable online and offline discussions. Have an intern do the moderating for you.

    5. fredwilson

      Or as clay shirky says ‘parties are great until too many people show up’

  19. Tyler Willis

    I buy this framework, in my opinion it’s best demonstrated by Arrington. He has turned opinion and thought leadership into not just the most popular tech blog, and his community has gotten so large that it has spun off numerous projects: Crunchpad and Crunchbase off the top of my head, but there are many more.I don’t think community synonymous with open-commenting. If your readers are creating value because they are interacting with other reads, then you’ve unquestionably built a community. So I’d agree with Fred, Godin is a community.

  20. Mike McGrath

    I’d be interested in hearing the sociological theory behind this. It seems as if we are moving towards a form of tribalism again where there is a small community for everyone, faults and all.

    1. kidmercury

      yes. i encourage folks to dig deep and find their inner sociologist/anthropologist, as doing so can yield much insight into how online communities stand to evolve. i think “virtual civilizations” will mirror the birth of the first “real” human civilizations.

  21. ShanaC

    Hmm, I really don’t think it’s about comments, or anything like that. it’s really about how much you and your blog influence people over time.Take this guy:…Daniel Sieradski. Most people here would never read him. He’s extremely influential in the groups he travels in. He’s written in at least three blogs, and now is running at least two more (for the Jewish Telegraph agency I think, or maybe the Forward?) One of the blogs he started way back in the early 00’s (I think), Jewschool, still is essentially the tastemaking blog for most active Jewish students in the US. Yet you never see the guy running around and commenting.It’s not the point. The point is that he actually got people to believe what he believes, and start doing similar activities that he does. He became a tastemaker through his many blogging activities. That’s pretty incredible. And that seems to be the end goal…

    1. kidmercury

      i just checked out the wikipedia page you left. one of the things about great influencers is they always have great passion, and are typically motivated more by the purity of their cause than by profits. however, i think having a destination and comments and things like that ensures the blog star “owns” the community (or at least can exert control over a larger portion of it), which in turn i think will prove to be vital for profit maximization.

      1. ShanaC

        In his case it’s a bit different, it’s all nonprofit.For me it’s all about whether you became an opinion leader. If you became a n opnion leader you own a community. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to do a Google Bomb unless you try, as well as convince Google to let the Google Bomb stay. It doesn’t requite comments. It requires basically the same level of community that we have here, as well as some sort of crazy sitaution. He did it. That’s a huge. It went all the way up to CNET. It went to my blogging rabbi. That’s influence.

    2. fredwilson

      Great example shana

  22. kidmercury

    lol, in the initial post fred’s being all professional and stuff and edited my jokes out……click here for the UNCENSORED comment from kid mercury!but i just wanted to note that when i think of blog stars, i am thinking in terms of opportunity for profit. there are two particular requirements i look for that i think will lead to blog profitability; hence i look for blog stars who exhibit them:1. show up daily. a must for creating engagement. participation in comments will in my opinion prove to be a very worthwhile investment. 2. blog stars are destination-oriented; like all they will have API monetization opportunities, and of course they should pursue them, but i think the blogger as sales/customer service agent is crucial — it is a customer relations job, and blog stars should focus accordingly on building their own destination. to the extent we can regard this as true, it would lead to opportunities in creating the platform/ecosystem that will enable the technology needed to create destinations for blog stars. but this is why i think comments need to be turned on, because if the conversation goes elsewhere, so too will the community, which means so too will the opportunity to intermediate a commercial transaction, which is the name of the game for profitable blog stars.

    1. Seth Godin

      This is silly, I think.If opportunity for profit is the metric, then your selections make very little sense, KM. The two wealthiest women in the world (Oprah and JK Rowling) wouldn’t qualify, because of the scaling issue of direct digital engagement with low-profit individuals. Either you need to make a lot of money per tribe member (very difficult in a digital transaction) or you need to make a little money from a ton of tribe members (almost impossible given your criteria.)If ‘ability to directly influence a conversation among digitally-enabled subgroups’ is the metric, then you’re probably on to something.

      1. kidmercury

        “Either you need to make a lot of money per tribe member (very difficult in a digital transaction)”…you mean, USED TO BE difficult in a digital transaction….until blog stars came along and changed the game by earning the trust needed maximize share of customer wallet!!! as an example, i would be willing to bet that at some point in the future (probably years off, but worth planning for now in my opinion) in which a venture capitalist like fred, rather than tapping into an offline network of rich folks to get money for his fund, can tap into his blog to crowdsource the fund. and i bet such an investor/blogger will be able to get a bigger share of a larger number of customer wallets. not $10 from a million customers, but not a million dollars from 10 customers you noted scaling engagement is an issue, no doubt. however this is where i think political/governance capability is key. the best blog stars will be able to engage and connect with a wider number of fans. it’s very similar to music: smaller, indie bands tend to have a more passionate and loyal following (from whom they can extract more money), but there are the occasional mega talents that can truly capture, sustain, and engage a global audience of passionate fans. it is exceedingly rare, of course. but social media technology will facilitate deeper and wider engagement and make it more possible.JK and oprah are not digital stars (JK is paperback/cinematic, oprah is television…at least that is their bread and butter and where they got started), so the example is irrelevant. if they were net natives, the economy surrounding them would be very different. a better example in my opinion is world renowned kook alex jones. alex is a new media superstar: daily articles, daily podcasts, daily videos. dependent largely on crowdsourcing for production. leverages influence to sell products relevant to target market and subject matter of community (kookology). has his own community that is very actively involved in co-creating the brand. interacts with his fans daily via his radio show/podcast. profit margins would be a lot higher if he learned how to leverage APIs and other stuff rather than doing everything internally, but that is a common mistake many blog stars are making. i am confident the mistake will be resolved for reasons of economic necessity in due time. in any event alex is profitable enough to employ 20 people or so (basically his own blog network) and run a legitimate full time media business — all done net native style, blog star style.also worth noting is that as blog stars grow, businesses will emerge to help them manage the crowd. i am working on building one such business. how innovative and successful such companies can be will also impact the scalability issue blog stars and blog networks will face.

      2. fredwilson

        It sure sounds like blog stars is the new rabbi model. A great lifestyle but not a superstar model

        1. ShanaC

          If that’s the case then I rue the day it all falls apart. Rabbi-ing is not a growth industry. If anything, it’s falling apart because of social media. People tend to follow what they find out on the internet- it’s extremely hard to become a taste maker. It’s mostly a mishmosh of opinions (which is how group blogs became popular in the first place….)

    2. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

      Hi Kid,could you explain this “destination” concept a little more? I’m not sure I’ve grasped it yet. You say blog-stars are “destination oriented” , and that the “should focus on building their own destination”. Then you add that this would lead to “opportunities in the platform/ecosystem that will enable technology needed to create destinations for blog-stars” (but I thought that blog-stars were ALREADY “destination oriented” — not that I really understand what that means… I guess I just find this super confusing :S)Besides the meaning of destination, I also find it strange that the ownership of whatever this destination-thing is should be 100% with blog-stars, I thik if you want to engage community, then you will need to make them stakholders in the activity (e.g. conversation?) — but maybe this is simply because I am quite clueless what you mean by “destination”… (?)Could you try to dumb this down to a grade-school level so that I have a chance of getting what you mean?Thanks!:) nmw

      1. kidmercury

        hi norbert,sure, here’s what i mean:1. the term “destination” will get murkier as the web evolves, but for now, i basically mean whoever is executing the commercial transaction and gaining access to corresponding customer information. is a destination. craigslist is a destination, although it could be a much, much, much better one. 2. i think bloggers will be able to serve as destinations, because they will be able to acquire the trust needed to intermediate transactions. 3. so then how to create the destination that enables a commercial transaction? fred recently referred to his blog as a club or bar of sorts where everyone knows your name. that’s true, but right now the problem is that no one is doing the work needed to run the bar. so really, it is not like we are hanging out at a bar, but more like some dude’s basement. i’m going to propose a solution to solve this problem by building fred a club. 4. so how can we best build fred this club? well we need a way to execute commercial transactions. advertising and ecommerce, that finances things. then you need social stuff, as that is basically what a club is. so maybe a way where we can all tweet with each other, share our own videos, start our own discussion forums, etc. 5. so how can we best build this club? that is debatable. very debatable. but i think one thing that a lot of people who believe in “open” stuff will believe in is to leverage other people’s APIs. for instance rather than building your own ad network, most people will just plug the ad network code into their blog to deliver ads. likewise, i think you will plug in your twitter solution, your own forum solution, etc. 6. so to me, that is sort of what the game boils down to. are you plugging into someone else’s destination, or are you a destination? in reality i think companies will increasingly need to be both, or at least understanding both sides and their role in it. as you noted the concept of ownership gets murky in this world, which is why i think we will see networks emerge that have their own rules. a person who i think has a somewhat similar view is marc andreessen. he’s prominent web technology guy, perhaps you are familiar with him. when i tell my technology views to people i often say “hey marc andreessen is working on something similar” so as to lend legitimacy to my views. lol. anyway, he previously blogged about platforms and really broke things down, but he took those blog posts down. (clearly, he ain’t a blog star.) he also founded the company, which i sort of interpret as an attempt to mass create niche destinations, which i think is a mega, mega, mega opportunity. and he recently has made some investments in bloggers and blog publishing. that’s just my perspective, of course i am extremely biased as i am running a business from this perspective.

        1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

          Thanks, that makes it clearer. :)I think the problem I have with such a model is that I don’t believe in online advertising. I owe a lot of this insight to Neil Budde, who wrote an article about this right around the time he left WSJ online. Basically, there’s no difference between advertising and all the other content on the web (I’m being more extreme than he was). In it’s purest form, web content is 100% information — and that’s it. Now the tricky part is how to make information marketplaces (see e.g.… — a lot of what the “barkeeper” does in your [and Fred’s] example is what the “market conductor” does in “Get Out of the Box” … I tried to explicate this a little more in… and… but TBH I’m not sure my writing in those 2 is as clear as I wish it could be :S).But “read us interruptus” will not work online — never did, never will… — it’s just too easy and will be surgically removed in a matter of seconds (milliseconds?). So irrelevant junk won’t go over well online — it will have to try to find an audience in traditional media (perhaps outdoor). In this vein, I have also been much inspired by a piece Esther Dyson wrote at least a decade ago (I’m sure everyone here has read it or at least knows what her general approach is).To summarize: IMHO, advertising doesn’t really exist as a separate entity on the web. The web is like one be yellow-pages directory. Sure, there are people who still use Google, and lots of advertisers spend their money trying to reach THAT audience (but if someone is trying to target me, then they’ll have moved on, because I’ve already done so — and not just from Google.COM, but also from YouTube.COM … ;). If you want to find ME, I’m the one who’s seen all the Bibles and have moved on to newer things BEYOND the bible… (see also Clay Shirky’s article, which I referenced in “Get Out of the Box” 😉

          1. Name

            * (I meant:) one BIG yellow-pages directory

          2. kidmercury

            yes i agree. i think content and advertising will blend so that they cannot be differentiated. product placement in games and movies is my favorite example of this trend. that is why i think many blog stars will end up having social games in their community, and that gaming in general will be the model that finances blog stars and the media revolution we are in the midst of.

          3. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

            Right — and so the “referee” will hopefully understand the “rules” of the game. AFAIK, this is something that digg and facebook pay a lot of attention to, but many other websites quite often overlook.As time goes on and the Wisdom of the Language [… ] expands beyond sites like,,, etc., the rules of web language may very well “dictate” that the directory of venture capitalists is found @ (and note that Wittgenstein’s interpretation of language/meaning is why I put dictate in quotes; also, it’s precisely for this reason that Google is very set on pushing their chrome service… i.e., as I said to Vint Cerf several years ago: there is no easy way to discern whether people willfully choose to click on “the blue e” or whether they are being LED to do so [see also… ]).Ultimately, Wittgenstein was spot on when he pointed out that the “correct” use of language is simply “the way people speak” — so meaning (and/or grammatical rules) emerge/s from the community of users, not from a centralized authority. The reason why one-size fits-all search engines return when people type in “amazon” is because that is what the users expect. If users typed in “orange” and a search engine gave them apple, then they would call it a crappy engine and stop using it.This unraveling — the movement away from a centralized authority — has an eerie similarity to the way the Protestant Reformation and the American + French Revolutions worked — except that the princes and kings of the web may not be treated quite as brutally as their counterparts in Europe were treated centuries ago (Immanuel Kant’s short article “Was ist Aufklärung?” [What is Enlightenment?] is very, um, enlightening in this regard ;). With a literate + enlightened user base it’s quite likely that the current tidewater aristocracy of the web will just be dropped like hotbots or maybe simply forgotten like distant friendsters.

          4. kidmercury

            i agree with the similarity with the american revolution. the web is enabling a decentralized takeover, a guerrilla takeover. this is i think a major difference in how businesses will emerge and compete in the digital world.

          5. fredwilson

            I agree but I hope nobody gets killed this time

          6. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

            Erin McKean gave a nice, brief overview of the significance of words at web2summit:…People may not die, but language will decimate brands. Did anyone do the math? is about 10% of the value of NBC.The thing about decentralization is that you might believe there are about 37^63 domain names per TLD (incidentally, that pretty much exactly 1 Googol 😉 ). But if 1 sheet of paper can hold about 2K of text think about the possibilities! Or how about as a bit map! Sheets of paper can contain an ENORMOUSLY wide variety of content — dwarfing the DNS…. But what actually happened? Language prevailed. Only an idiot would title a textbook about economics “For the Birds”. People who want to sell information about economics label the content “Economics”.Brand names (like Google, Microsoft, NYTimes and HuffingtonPost) are meaningless — they will be decimated. Twitter, Yahoo, OMG, etc. will prevail.Several years ago, I asked whether .COM web addresses are Russian. That may sound a little strange, but at the time news organizations said that allofmp3.COM was a Russian company. This makes no sense — .COM addresses fall under the jurisdiction of the United States (see also comments about governance made by Tim Berners-Lee the other day:… ). I feel it is appropriate for commercial enterprises to use the commercial TLD to advertise the products + services using .COM domains. But in many cases, the age-old maxim “if you register a domain, make sure it’s a .COM domain” is becoming more laughable day by day — as a rough estimate, perhaps 99% of .COM domains will also be decimated in the coming years.

          7. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

            I’ve posted a reply to this @… (it’s got a couple links in it, so it doesn’t pass’s spam filter):) nmw

          8. fredwilson

            I fixed that. It was hung up for moderation because of the abundance of links.

    3. Mark Essel

      1) Absolutely need to be there, but daily isn’t a requirement. I enjoy Paul Graham and believe his essay’s are of the blog star variety (although he’s on HackerNews commenting just about daily)2) communities are crossing the destination boundary. Redditors, and HN’ers are popping up and hanging out on twitter, google wave, and friendfeed. They don’t just talk about the star, they talk about the ideas and challenges the blog star is facing. Profiting from coordinating and leading communities feels like taxing a nation of people, albeit on a smaller scale. I’d prefer to know a community so well, and understand it’s needs deeply, so I could navigate a product/service of super high value into their hands at cost + tight margin.It’s pretty cool that’s Seth’s Disqus’ing with us here. I often wonder how my experience of his blog would be with open comments (and how he would manage reviewing them all), and what type of vocal community he’d attract.

      1. fredwilson

        Paul Graham is a blog star and he uses his essays and leadership of HN’s community to do it. Lesson: there’s more than one way to do it

      2. kidmercury

        i think there will need to be a daily component of sorts. paul graham doesn’t write essays daily, but hacker news delivers news daily. that is sort of why think blog stars are natural news destinations — the star is just the person you’re reading the news with, the person who is an expert on the subject and can add their unique commentary, and can attract other cool people to do the same.communities crossing boundaries serves as the ultimate reminder that the community is the top dog up in this piece. not the blog star, not the technology, but the will of the people. that is why i really believe open systems are destined to prevail, because the community will ultimately demand the ability to cross boundaries, and open technologies facilitate this.

        1. Mark Essel

          Great stuff, power to the people. Open, transparent, portable, that’s the way folks want media to be. Just scanned over a great ebook on this topic from Marc Canter, “how to build an open mesh” http://blog.broadbandmechan…Very cool looking stuff and the greatest thing is, I started reading it because I couldn’t figure out why I had a 280mbyte pdf file in my dropbox.

    4. fredwilson

      The edit was as much for brevity as anything elseBlog posts should be readable on the elevator ride down if possible

      1. kidmercury

        good point

  23. JeremiahKane

    One interesting point from the post: “You can’t be a blog star if you blog for a company, unless it is your company” I think that is very true now; but I think some companies will find a way to allow blog stars to grown within the corporate walls. It will be hard given the inherent conflicts likely to arise but companies also have a long history of finding a way to make “stars” happy. Sales stars, banking stars etc.

    1. kidmercury

      yes. although in my personal opinion, the long-term trend will be for blog stars to be fully independent — to serve as an intermediary whose loyalty is to the customer, not the merchant. but i think it will take time to get there, and in the mean time, corporate blog stars are quite likely. in fact i would argue matt cutts, a google employee who handles webmaster relations, has some elements of the corporate blog star.

      1. fredwilson

        Yup. Matt is a blog star

    2. fredwilson

      Scoble, who is a blog star, did that inside microsoft for a while. But being a blog star should be more profitable than being an employee

  24. Star

    There are definitely some great Stars presented here! Still almost none of these star opinion leaders have managed to get really popular, that is mainstream popular. But I think that’s pretty much what Seth explained here the idea behind the internet “Power to the people” will lead to many people all having their preferences for certain blogs. So it’s waiting for the next Star !

  25. karen_e

    In the spirit of mentioning other blog stars whose galaxy might be far away from this one, check out The Sartorialist (…. Very influential, very globe-shrinking, very passionate and fun. And the Kid will enjoy analyzing his economic potential.

    1. fredwilson

      Sartorialist is huge in my householdGotham Gal and the girls love that blog

      1. ShanaC

        I love that blog in my girly-girl time (shhhh)

    2. kidmercury

      yes! that is a great example of a blog star. the economic potential is out of this world, in my opinion. it would be even bigger, i think, if they used a different platform instead of blogger. sartorialisters should be able to engage each other, which could lead to transactions amongst them, and the possibility for the sartorialist to get a piece of those transactions. perhaps in the future you’ll be able to hang out and go shopping with fred’s wife and daughters at thesartorialist!

      1. fredwilson

        That will be expensive 🙂

        1. kidmercury

          no worries boss i will make sure sartorialist accepts fredbucks so you will still get your piece

  26. Venkat

    I was just thinking about this yesterday. The key distinction is between those who consciously set themselves up as personal brands (and thereby become the central social object in their community) and those who who put what they DO at the center (i.e. their writing or central idea). Also whether or not community forms on your site or elsewhere is irrelevant. The question is whether you are the conceptual center of gravity. Godin qualifies because he catalyzes so much reaction in the ‘wild’ so to speak. He doesn’t need the activity to be on his site (in fact that would limit his impact). All he needs is a good dashboard.And the key criterion about whether it is, in fact, a community, is whether the members talk to each other (i.e. you are catalyst) rather than hub-spoke relate just to you. You mentioned this a few posts back, but it is conceptually important as the line between spectacle and community. Sets up the network effects, Reid’s law etc.

    1. fredwilson

      Great insight venkat

    2. kidmercury

      i think the issue of where the community forms is critical. if the community forms outside of you, you lose access to critical social analytics and customer profile information. or perhaps i should say i find it critical if you have a profit/business orientation.i think there will be lots of types of communities, although in general i think the larger a community gets, the more the opportunity will be in fan-to-fan interactions, rather than star-to-fan interactions.

      1. Mark Essel
  27. mthomas1818

    I was just thinking about this as I read one of Mish’s latest columns titled “Where the Hell is the Outrage?” I am not that familiar with some of the others on the list, but I have been a daily reader of Mish’s blog for several years now and he has taught me so much and helped me save a ton of money and learn to invest my money more wisely. He recently wrote a column about gold, which I know continues to be one of his favorite asset classes, because it does well during periods of high govt intervention in the economy and economic uncertainty. And I also saw someone in the comments on Mish’s site recommend some of the articles at, which discuss the relationship between the gold price, gold mining companies, and the value of the dollar given the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. The article that I thought was most useful to read there is titled “Gold Price Up, Dollar Down – Does it Really Matter?” This is just one example of why I think the community that Mish has been is very strong and will only get stronger over time.

  28. chartsandcoffee

    Fred, I enjoyed learning about the folks on your list so much that I decided to spend the entire day tracking down more interesting people. My list is more from a biographical perspective. People you would be interested in having a beer with is one way to put it.

  29. jamesblake33

    Yeah, good post!

  30. bfeld

    That’s just secret code between us.

  31. fredwilson