AVC - A Publishing Dinosaur
I was listening to Benedict Evans and Chris Dixon talking about micropayments, ad blockers, web and mobile publishing, and a few other interesting topics this morning and they were making the point that publishers have to go to platforms where their audiences are these days (Facebook, Apple, Medium, etc). I thought about that in the context of AVC and realized that we are most certainly a dinosaur. I publish using a wordpress instance running on a server in the cloud on my own domain. Direct traffic is the largest form of traffic AVC gets. Organic search still drives as much traffic as social. RSS still generates a meaningful amount of traffic (it is called (other) in the chart below).
Within the social category, Twitter is king and Facebook is an also ran.
Referrals come mostly from Twitter and Hacker News
All of this results in 250,000 web sessions a month, plus RSS and email which about double that. Over the course of a year, it’s over 5mm user sessions across web, email, and RSS.
This pales in comparison to a real commercial publication. But it’s not too bad for a small community tended to by a single operator.
We are most certainly old school in terms of the way this audience comes together.
Maybe that’s why the audience has been flat for over five years now.
But it still works very well for me and hopefully for all of you too.
Works for me. 🙂
Every time a pundit says, “have to go…” it makes me nervous.They told me, quite forcefully, that I had to have comments, or it wasn’t a real blog.And they told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to have my own domain and move to WordPress, hey, even Fred does that!And they told me I’d be irrelevant if I wasn’t on Twitter. (Perhaps it’s true.)And then, the same people who said I had to have comments and had to be on my own domain started telling me I had to be on Medium.Or Facebook, I can’t remember.And then the LInkedin guys showed up with this amazing deal, that they would move my blog over to Linkedin and I’d get all this special traffic, and of course, complete freedom to write what I wanted…Along the way, for the last fifteen or twenty years, it seems to me that there’s a constant back and forth between owned platforms and sharecropping, and the platforms keep changing.Best I can tell, though, during my long spiral to irrelevance by not being on the right platform, the single most important choice has been this one:Build a direct, consistent permission relationship with your readers.Either you do that, and you have a long-term asset, a promise to be kept and the chance to be in charge.Or you don’t do that, and the platforms take their tax.Some people say that this is only true for me, because I’m me. But maybe I’m me because it’s true.
Agreed. #BrandPower. No one should own your brand.
it works for me too Seth.i love this line “Best I can tell, though, during my long spiral to irrelevance by not being on the right platform, the single most important choice has been this one:Build a direct, consistent permission relationship with your readers.”
I agree. Blogs are about being you. Or should be.The same for companies that decide to have a blog. Company blogs are there to build a 2 way relationship with a customer, and create opportunities to develop relationships with new customers. They should be a window into the soul of the corporate culture.With regard to platforms it might depend. I have agreed to put stuff on different platforms. Certainly, it does not lead to more “hits” on my site.Blogging on other platforms may or may not create an economic opportunity for me. But, often times it does stimulate the conversation with regard to something to help create a movement, keep momentum for a movement, or educate people about a movement.As long as you are true to yourself, and really concentrate on that 2 way relationship it works.
hellofalot easier for a person to be true to themselves than a company.in fact the more you think of companies as people the more confuscated their positioning gets.
Agree, lawyers make it tough on a company. But, the internet is a great truth detector. The sooner they learn to be real, be transparent and create a good dialogue the better it will be for them.
I’ve done a bunch of corporate blogs and they invariably skirt really working.Most succcessful have been developer oriented companies as no community is more social and more inquisitive than the tech one.
Hence the opportunity
related: corporate intranets
Maybe somewhat similar to company newsletters in the 80’s. Rarely anything relevant or worthwhile reading. At the least the ones that we either received from our vendors or printed for others.
Do you think this why it’s beneficial to have someone like Elon Musk being seen as the company? A primary entity people go to for messaging?
Always a leg up to have a face of the company who epitomizes its vision.With startups of course this is a must.That and the pov of a oorporate blog are not the same thing of course.
That depends on the kind of corporate culture. Steve Jobs was the face of Apple. Often, when one person is dominant, the corporate culture is a “guacamole eating Kool aid drinking cult” in the words of Professor Ron Burt. That’s neither good nor bad. Some cultures are set up for brokerage, some for cloture. Just depends on the business and goals.
Blogs “should be a window into the soul of the corporate culture.” That just put a lot of pieces together for me. Thank you.
And helps keep you relevant and engaged, eh?
one data point you left out, Fred, was the direct email #s — I love that you include the entire blog post in the email — mashable used to do that, but like many media companies, switched to snippets to drive web traffic. it worked for a while but then their content quality fell fast. AVC & Seth’s Blog are the only two emails i still read daily!
I think I found you and AVC via Twitter. 🙂
Yes. Nobody will ever be better at being you than you; the internet proves this every day
Your last 5 paragraphs apply to so much. Our business had a 100,000+ customer list that grew nicely every year. Not a record number, but it worked. We got fancy about 18 months ago and moved everyone to a new platform that did this, that and everything else. When we used to give a free burrito away, it cost us the cost of a burrito. Makes sense. Now we still pay the cost of a burrito, BUT to have access to this special “toll road” we have signed up for In addition we now pay 25% of the value the customer receives. We are paying a toll on giving something away for free. And wouldn’t you know it, the database is only about 1/3 as large as it was. Paying double to be 2/3 less effective. I think I know what needs to happen. Thank you.
Moved to Cambridge at the beginning of September. I am a couple blocks down from the Boloco on Mt. Auburn. So far have to say both the regular and breakfast burritos have been good. I think the big difference between the shop and the Chipotle is that Chipotle (and Starbucks) always feel like a Chipotle or Starbucks wherever you go. They have a rather distinct interior design. Boloco feels more like a neighborhood shop with the Harvard memorabilia up, etc. Overall I’d give it two thumbs up and have obviously been back.
Huge fan of the mini burritos (& Boloco in general) — I so wish more restaurants would give you the option to order a smaller portion size.
Co-sign on this. I’m convinced a large portion of the reason weight is a struggle for America is that many of us are eating out more and these serving sizes are insane.
Serving sizes in the US versus Europe and other places are definitely quite a bit larger. Too many people in the US think “more is always better”…and you know what, it’s not.
.As a Texan, I must object to the notion of a “mini-burrito” which is, in reality, a freakin’ taco. T A C OTaco.A burrito, like the world renowned ATX Burnet Road Burrito which is a combination of enough scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and hot sauce large enough to feed a squad of hungry paratroopers, is not ever meant to be “mini”-ed.This is what is wrong with America today. We know what right is when held up next to wrong and yet we constantly choose the wrong path.There is no such thing as a “mini” burrito. There are tacos.Live well. Be true to the Force. Hold those who would malign burritos accountable. Don’t be reluctant to select a taco but know what it says about you.Let’s do the right thing here.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
From what I know about Texas your tacos are indeed the size of the (larger) burritos up here in El Norte.But, my friend, let’s not get into the whole taco vs. burrito battle since it inevitably leads to the soft shell vs. hard shell issue and that can only end in a Phyrric victory (as well as a rather large lunch).
.Ana, you are hopelessly misinformed. In Tejas, we are very disciplined as to the appropriate size of our tacos and, in fact, my favorite taco place (Taco Deli) is downright dainty in their portion control.So, let’s dispel those hateful rumors. Vicious stereotypes, no?As to burritos, once that word crosses your lips you have already staked out some rarified ground. You have made a statement and it says that “thangs are bigger in Texas and this burrito will make a believer of all of y’all”.There is no reason to wander toward burritos if you are not that hungry. Stay dainty. No harm, no foul.But the idea of a “mini” burrito?There is just some stuff one doesn’t do.That would be like finding out the Pope is a socialist. Wait!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Minimalism is an acquired taste 😉
Well we know who isn’t on proton pump inhibitors.
Subtext: Junior, what do you want to be when you grow up, a burrito or a taco?
“Burrito bowls”. Discuss.
.Something invented by a hateful and envious Yankee intended to foment discord and unrest in Texas. Move on, friend.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
great comment.i’m actually in the market right now for more ‘irrelevant’ blogs like yours (seth) and fred’s.
“Irrelevan”t blogs are the best ones, because they are the ones written by people not just wanting as many page views as possible (and will write crap to get them).
that’s exactly what i was thinking.
Now, try to formulate a keyword/phrase search that will find mostly just such blogs! You and Drew have described a search problem that needs to honor the meaning you have in mind. So, could get a list of 100+ million blogs and look at each one. Could ask some friends. Etc. Glad to see you’ve noticed the problem!
I came to this post to comment – and then I read @sethgodin:disqus comment – and decided he had said everything else that needed to be said.
that is one of Seth’s many gifts
A good domain does help — seth.com would help all of us lazy people remember and visit your site more often, still one more character than avc.com mind you..
Just saw this pyramid posted by Eric Enge.
permission-based marketing, cool idea! do you mind if i steal that line? 🙂
Well, probably because you are you… and timing.I don’t kid myself that if I started on Twitter today I’d have 3500+ followers. I just came in at the right time and had the space (and desperate need) to invest in building a social presence. Man, I miss those days.(3500+ followers is peanuts to people like you and Fred, but we’re talking about starting from total and complete obscurity.)
@fredwilson the flat audience is probably due to saturation. i can’t think of many people in your universe of potential readers who don’t engage with AVC at least monthly.
yes, i mostly agree.but i don’t strive to grow it anymore either. i don’t even tweet out my posts on the @fredwilson handle anymore.
maybe it is time that we, the readers, do the promoting for you
I dunno about being dinosaur. It’s the other way around. It’s the publishers who are dinosaurs for having to beg, borrow and steal their audiences from Facebook and Medium, because their brands are taking hits.Your audience is here, and it is used to coming here. And your SEO is super-high, beating “established” publishers in the domains you cover.Being on multiple platforms means more time to manage these presences, and it would be a nightmare for a single operator.
timing of this post is incredible, because i was just reading this one: http://avc.com/2014/08/the-…and if you go through the comments of that post you’ll see a lot of talk about the power of controlling your own identity using your own platform at your own domain.
Confession: I usually click the avc.com home page URL to see what’s up everyday. But hey, I am 46…
i do the same.
I see the daily email and click thru
It’s either through the home page URL or a click-through from the email for me. But hey, I am 49…
Your audience is so loyal and amazing but it would be great to see lots of new voices.
that’s an issue with the comments and i think it stems from a few things1) many people don’t like to leave comments. i think 90%+ of the daily readers at AVC don’t leave comments2) this community has become a bit hard wired. once that happens, it is hard to break in.3) the move to mobile has made commenting harder
If people are at all attached to a company in finance, often times FINRA regs won’t let them comment.
Experiment: new person week.
#3 is a blog post by itself.
totally. having to sign in on disqus on mobile is a huge pain.i basically only comment on blogs when i’m up early and i’m sitting at my desk with my coffee.
yuplong commenting on mobile has been abandoned as a space as far as I can see.honestly easier to comment on strings on facebook then on disqus.did i really just say that!!!
you mean trying to tap the tiny “reply” button (on facebook), which usually just results in liking and unliking the previous comment several times before you finally nail it?
Facebook? I’m supposed to use Facebook? I tried a few times, and I could never make sense out of their UI. Sometimes I could get some results but never get them again. I mostly gave up on Facebook. Gee, after your post, I no longer feel like the Lone Ranger. How did Zuck get so rich with that thingy?
Why the heck would anyone “move to mobile”? Are they otherwise also a serious threat to themselves? Should such people be permitted to tie their own shoes, ride a bicycle, cross a street without a crossing guard in a yellow smock, drive a car? Handle a gun? Gads!
Interesting point. I have turned several people on to this blog over the last year, usually by forwarding the daily email I get to someone I know who might find that particular post interesting. In several cases, the people later told me (in person) that they are hooked on the blog and read it every day now. Several of the people are Metro North train commuters, traveling from CT to NYC. I wonder if they would participate if it weren’t for the fact that they are reading the posts via mobile, travelling through intermittent zones of connectivity (The CT shoreline has terrible cell coverage).
disqus mobile doesn’t solve the problem for me and i bet i’m not unique in this case.
Community has become hard-wired and is hard to break in?Let’s do an experiment for a few days or a week in Oct. Let’s ask all regular commentators to temporarily not comment and ask lurkers to suggest what topics+companies etc they’d like to see featured on AVC.Ok I’m going to lurk and not comment in Oct.
“Lurker” is to audience as “lifestyle business” is to “business.” I hate the term because to me it implies a level of “creepiness.”
Social media terms are often defined by the academics and then get adopted by the market:* http://www.thedrum.com/news…It’s the same for psychometric and socio-demographic boxes that people like to put other people in for convenience.Instead of “lurker”, maybe we can simply use “non-commenter”.
I guess most people just want to read. In my particular case I value the quality of the editorial and discussion found here. Sitting on a table by the window and near the bar is absolutely OK for me.
Agree. Lurker is a put-down term.
just call it a “cash-flow” business.
Become a consumer, not a lurker.
WHO GOES TO ROCK SHOW WHEN ROCKERS REFUSE TO PLAY?
Beatles opened the way for Coldplay, Maroon 5 and even Taylor Swift, si?Haha.
IF EVERYONE SHOW UP TO BEATLES SHOW, AND BEATLES SAY “SURPRISE, INSTEAD YOU GET COLDPLAY!”…RESULTS NOT VERY PRETTY.
Haha, you crack me up! Rock on, AVC bar! :*).
Agree, using Disqus on mobile is not really an amazing experience at the moment.
I often wait to get home to comment on my computer. But then, you know, life gets in the way, and two days later the tab is still up on my browser and I have moved on to other things.
Not on to bitch, but I have been locked out of disqus on my mobile, for several months. No way to reset from the phone, so it does;t get done.On the other hand, I am not sure if commenting is as popular in younger demos.
I fall into a younger demo than the norm at AVC and feel confident that commenting is as popular, if not more, than it is among older demos. Haven’t looked into any research that proves this, so it’s anecdotal, but there is a lot of evidence that younger users love community and speaking out. Isn’t that why Twitter is so successful? Reddit has essentially built an entire community out of comments alone among a younger demo.
You could do something about #2.You are the bartender, you serve drinks every day, people who like the drinks come by everyday because they like the menu they have come to expect. Change the menu up a bit.
this community has become a bit hard wired. once that happens, it is hard to break in.Hard to break in? Hard? There is plenty of material here for anyone and everyone to make a comment on. The fact is they don’t want to and/or aren’t confident enough in what they have to say to say something. Not very entrepreneurial actually. It’s not about running a popularity contest and caring about what anyone but your customers and perhaps your vendors think.Further to the point of “90% don’t like to leave comments” I will guess that it’s actually far greater than 90%. And as I suggested in the past, did Disqus ever survey people in some personal  way to see why they don’t comment? Is there any data on this? Did you ever ask the question here? Not that I remember. If there is a problem to be fixed in order to do that you have to fully understand the reason for the problem. It’s more than mobile not that that helps. As I said I don’t comment on mobile. Ever.Here is a thought for you. If you want to draw more new commenters into the mix perhaps, you should interact with them.  I am saying that knowing that you don’t have the time to actually do that on any consistent basis. After all if you had a restaurant (old school) you would probably be there on Saturday night milling with the crowd and not only talking to the regulars but also stopping by the table of new patrons telling them that you appreciate that they patronize your restaurant. That’s obvious, right? In fact if you own any small business you should be doing that. Public relations. The part about “personal” is important. This doesn’t mean dumb survey it means make a personal connection in order to discover the facts. And I don’t mean the way they do on talk radio either. I don’t mean “hey welcome here” I mean make them feel that what they have to say matters and is relevant in an indirect way, not a direct way.
Fred once posted something called the 90/9/1 rule, indicating that across all the internet properties he’s had the opportunity to see — no matter what the audience/service/product — that the online community always boils down to that rule: 90% consumer, 9% curator, 1% creator. When applied here, the silent 90% is just watching, the rest of us create or curate.
A fourth possibility, perhaps related to your second point: your archives have reached critical mass. The most insightful potential new commenters are drawn away by the decade-plus of intelligent discussion already available, for months or even years while they try to assimilate all of it.Sure, they (we?) can post every now and then “up front” while they’re catching up, but not everyone thinks of that.
#2 is interesting. I wonder if that always happens. (Spent part of the weekend reading Edith Wharton for an upcoming book club gathering, and contemplating how communities create/agree on norms.)
Especially agree with #3. Much easier to read than comment.
I’m in that 90% and just fixed up my disqus account to say this! I’ve been reading your posts for the last 5 years, day in day out since i was 21. I read the top comments too and for me, it’s all about learning from the best and this community is quality reading. One day I’ll have more to say, but for now this is my class room and i enjoy learning!I like AVC the way it is and i like it more because you’re not writing it for traffic spikes, you’re writing it for you and that’s as real as it gets.
I’m in the same pack, the silent 90% consumer-lurker-readers looking for quality content. What I enjoy most though is Fred’s talks and interviews on video. It would be interesting to estimate how many of the blog readers link in from the video talks.
1) I don’t think it’s a case of not liking to comment it’s a time/nothing to add thing2) There is definitely more of a clique thing going on now. If you were hosting a party offline a good host will help with the introductions for new people. LE has already alluded to it, I think you probably need to reply more to new people to redress the current balance3) Yup! I don’t know if you have the desktop vs mobile comment stats but that is an issue that Disqus are just not meaningfully addressing and it’s not a new problem anymore
ME, FAKEGRIMLOCK, TALK TO DISQUS ABOUT #3 YEARS AGO.NOTHING CHANGE SINCE.FACEBOOK? COMMENT ON MOBILE EASY.MAYBE THERE SOME KIND OF LINK BETWEEN THAT AND EVERYONE USE FACEBOOK.
The problem with paywall publishers: each requires it’s own subscription, although you no longer stick to one source. To avoid the situation where other platforms control the content, publishers can build the “rdio for newspapers “, and charge the reader one monthly payment. Then revenue sharing based on the actual reading, similarly to songs.
apparently if you were to cut out the advertising links your audience numbers would sky rocket
Click bait or organic traffic; trolls or a community; drive bys or engagement; paid traffic or word of mouth; strangers or friendsThought about making a dinosaur in shirt sleeves w a visor and a typewriter, found this insteadI spent a decade giving dictation into payphones to the rewrite desk and etc from political campaigns and crime scenes — then the Internet was inventedLong form journalism is finding revenue models; the throwaway nickel paper is dead but long reads are more necessary than everYour posts are great, and the comments add so much; there are real discussions with smart people; also, jokesThe only two places I know of that have as engaged a commentariat are the Ta Ne Hesi Coates blog over on the Atlantic, and Tom and Lorenzo, opinionated and fabulousYou could assiduously promote the blog across all your other activities, you could buy traffic … Or you could let it be a place that people have to put a little effort into findingCurious how many uniques vs returns the traffic is — noobs vs long timers, people who dip a toe in, try the business thing, fail, and flounce: people looking for magic beans that will grow into gold, and people who return to see what you and your community want to talk about todayRelated — His Girl Friday, based on The Front Page, 1940 — the definition of click bait journalism; if it bleeds, it leads. How did they talk that fast? (Note; The movie, with an all star cast, contains casual racism that is recognized as that now). Released going on 75 years ago; everything has changed; nothing has changed
Community is a force of nature.Don’t mess with it and you simply can’t airlift it!(from the archives–You can’t airlift community http://awe.sm/sAQgH )
A dinosaur implies something of the past – old and outdated. It isn’t the means to an end that matters; it is the content that is being delivered. I’d rephrase to “AVC – A Publishing Classic”.
I’ve read many commentators say that adblocking is another reason why publishers should move to platforms because that’s where the users and revenue is. I’m not buying it. Ads can be blocked on platforms, and adblockers have no motivation to read their favorite pubs on a platform when they can still get it ad-free on the open web.Also, “going where the audience is” (i.e. platforms) doesn’t change the fact that the pub still has their open web site to maintain. Can’t abandon the old ship.
I hate how antagonistic that conversation has become and how much it focuses on ad blocking vs. content monetization. If pubs had more options including subscriptions and micro-payments perhaps we could be seeing fewer belly fat and teeth whitening ads. We don’t expect a print version of a newspaper, say the NYT, to be free; why do we still expect its digital version would be? It’s 2015 and pretty clear that digital is not an experiment.
Well, it is nuanced, isn’t it. The marginal cost of a physical object is real and measurable. The marginal cost of one more page view isn’t. A CD costs $14, but a digital copy of that CD feels like it doesn’t cost anything or hurt anyone by making the copy. This is the prevalent attitude towards online content, in general, IMO. So, while the tech and utilities are there to handle different forms of payment, that doesn’t change human behavior.That said, we all used to pay for digital news when it was packaged into our America Online, Compuserve, or Prodigy account fees. The unbundling of access (ISP) and content on the open web did away with that – and some might add: to the detriment of content producers.
Yes – bestowing value on non-tangible things like digital content is certainly nuanced, but judging by the Kickstarters, Patreons, and mini subscriptions that are emerging (in addition to the ban all advertising pitchforks) we’re coming around to the realization that digital content costs money. The great paradox here for me has always been how Amazon has been able to ascertain value for e-books from the get go (and I’m purposefully skating around some of the tactics they applied here and focusing just on the definition of value for an ebook being somewhat on par with its physical cousins). For film and newspapers/magazines this transition has been much, much more difficult and speaks to the power a single platform can have and exert on pricing.But this is all moot. We’re switching back to vinyl en masse, aren’t we?
I think there’s a passage in the Steve Jobs bio about how the book publishers were persuaded not to let what happened to music happen to them. The analogy holds with books as a physical object to digital…but different for a periodical like a newspaper that isn’t a single instance thing. And you’re right: you skated right around the closed hardware platforms that introduced digital books 😉
@aexm:disqus @JimHirshfield:disqus great discussion! I guess I am a little “cranky realist” when it comes to this stuff. I believe in the value of art – even when it comes in forms that don’t seem real (digital) – but I think a lot of people seem determined to stick to old ways of making money. If you sell a product that can be copied, you need to find a way to deal with the reality of that situation.It’s interesting that with the advances in 3D printing, this issue will now start to affect “real” products as well.Of course, I don’t have any answers. I just think a lot of whining goes on about why things can’t be like they used to be.
Fair point, but there have been easily copied things for sale for generations…and laws to protect that property. So, I don’t know that whining is the right descriptive here.
Perhaps “whining” is a little strong, but I think we need to deal with the hand we are dealt of play a different game. I’m also in favor of reasonable laws to protect property owners, but some of our current laws go much too far – in my opinion.
Works. Especially when you consider the level of quality in this ‘flat’ group.
Maybe you are kidding yourself a little here being so satisfied with a relatively large % of direct organic traffic. You are one of the “central planners.” People read you to know how to pitch their ideas — just like the Pingboard guy said. But not every online publishers is a VC with millions of gentlemen dollars to invest.
that’s key.he’s fred fucking wilson.
Disagree. I have no ideas to pitch to Fred. I just show up for the company.
To clarify I mean the people, I do not work for Fred and I am not paid to comment.
You and me both, but perhaps this position is peculiar to commenters — a tiny minority of traffic.
wait, we learn to pitch here.. i thought this was a political blog?
What you are referring to is the “rich guy in the neighborhood” effect (halo) and what it does to young people who are trying to go after the brass ring. My guess is that a guy like JLM (for example) can make a distinction between young people who he meets who want to “take advantage” of him in a similar way and, as Trump would say, “low energy losers”. Please let some of your special dust rub off of me. When I was younger, that is what I would have done for sure. I would have honed in on him in a second.Maybe you are kidding yourself a little hereI don’t think he is kidding himself anymore than a pretty girl is kidding herself if guys pay attention to her because of the way that she looks.  As the Irish Salesman told me when I was younger (about something similar, not looks) “use it to your advantage”. Every notice how many super attractive girls there are involved in startups? No boating accident there.
Some of the publishing platforms of near future?
Finally.. a way to get photos on my fridge. Now I just need to get the magnetic poetry app.
Looking fwd to Cerebro and teleportation.With the fridge, I’d install a “Moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips” voice app for every time I reach for the ice cream, pastries and big fat CHEESE & BACON sandwiches!Haha.
There’s a difference between engaged audience and monetizable audience. There’s no question we’re the former here and that we could likely be the latter as well (e.g. optional $12 p/y subscription w/ proceeds going to Fred’s favorite charity or even better different charity each month Omakase-style). The monetization option is what makes many creators turn to platforms: it seems easier and there are options. Fundamentally this is behind all of the ad blocking debates we’re seeing: advertising remains the most viable and in many cases the only option for content monetization today and this scenario isn’t really incentivizing for quality.There’s value in paying for quality content.
Interesting perspective, Fred! But, I would argue that this community is indicative of the health of social media and why people need to pay attention to much more than Twitter, Facebook and the like. The internet is scattered with tens of millions of powerful and interesting communities of specific interest and the more people try to “push” them towards properties whose goal is conversation domination, the stronger these communities become. The next disruptive “unicorns” will come from the long tail of social discussion. This is where the innovation is discussed and developed. Thanks for staying focused as this community is now somewhat building itself.
Arrived via Google now today (but a long time if quiet reader). Where does that one fit?
I find that there is an advantage in rolling up your own using tools like wordpress because you can choose your own functionality and look, and that becomes part of who you are and how you are perceived. There is something to be said, though, about using platforms that can bring you traffic and are easier to manage. So, Fred, if you had to start from scratch today, how would you do it?
You should do a weekly podcast. AVC dominates the tech blog VC niche. I’m sure Feld would kill to have those #s. Dixon would get more traffic if he tried to post with any frequency. Ben evans is closing but still far behind. Sacca was smart for investing in Startup podcast, that stuffs going to be huge b/c people just don’t want to read anything anymore. Books->white papers->WSJ articles->BI articles->twitter -> pictographs->[podcasts?]. People are too lazy to read anymore to get educated. Cursive isn’t even taught anymore. Podcasts will disrupt reading. Full stack!
Gee, right! Now, how will people find what the heck to read, look at, pay attention to, etc.? For their interests, treated as unique in all the world?E.g., how long would it take for a new entrepreneur to discover what you just outlined about VC blogs?Or, early in the commercial Internet, people commonly put on their Web pages their personal favorite URLs. Then, right Brad, he has been known to fill the right column of his Web pages with his personal favorite VC Web blogs. Why? Because it’s not so darned easy to find those URLs otherwise. Why? Because a keyword/phrase search is too far from the intended meaning of the desired content. What to do about that? Hmm!Or, since today we are going back to dinosaur times, let’s review some of what the old guys in information retrieval knew: One of the small, niche special cases was information retrieval where the user knew (1) quite specifically what they wanted, (2) knew that it existed, and (3) had keyword/phrases that accurately characterized what they wanted. Right, for such an effort, for a long time such a user would use the subject index of a library card catalog. Sort the results on a measure of popularity and, presto, bingo, Google, Bing, etc. Well, the information retrieval people clearly understood that that case is just a niche. It still is.Or, if there is a phrase of, say, five words anywhere on AVC, and know that, and know the phrase, then a keyword/phrase search stands to find the site, page, and post — boom. That is, with (1)-(3) we can do well.But about not in the niche, what about the rest, i.e., when don’t have (1)-(3)? That’s, first cut, a case of discovery. If get personal about it, then it’s a case of recommendation. Then with that done, might want some personal content curation and, then, also notification and subscription. Ah, catbird seat over the future of digital content!Or, a long time ago, there were 100 million blogs out there; how to find the dozen or so you will want? How about 1 billion or so URLs? 1 trillion or so Web pages? Heck, for just small potatoes, just the video clips at Vimeo and YouTube?You mentioned BI. Right. Also toss in Web sites of CNN, MSNBC, Fox, Time, NYT, WaPo. Now, there’s a theme that Citizen Kane understood: Appeal to the mob, least common denominator, using methods of drama from formula fiction, grab’m by the heart, the gut, and below the belt, always below the shoulders, never between the ears, e.g., Taboola — upchuck.That’s all one size fits all, and it usually fits poorly. Think that approach to mass media will last? I don’t. Evidence? The TV audience. E.g., apparently there’re some TV shows Game of Thrones and House of Cards. Well, I’ve never watched a single episode of either and don’t know what they are about.Done well, one size fits all? Nope. One size fits at most one. Sorry ’bout that.
in the context of AVC and realized that we are most certainly a dinosaurI think a more appropriate way to put it is “old school”. There is nothing about publishing your own blog, on your own server, under your own domain, (and a good one at that) that is headed for extinction.  This would be like saying that if one manufacturers furniture in the US they are a dinosaur because all of their competitors are “making it in China”. This is clearly a market for your knowledge and opinion at this venue in this form. The bottom line is
So, from( 3600 * 24 * 30 ) / 250,000 = 10.368get on average, 24 x 7, one session about each 10 seconds.So, that wouldn’t do much to keep a Web server or a session state server busy.How much computing is needed for the Web pages from WordPress I can’t accurately judge, but for a Web site session state server I have some data because I wrote one and timed it!My session state server is a key-value store, just some TCP/IP sockets, some class instance de/serialization, and two instances of a collection class. The collection class is from Microsoft’s .NET and isSortedList(Of TKey, TValue)as athttps://msdn.microsoft.com/…and is likely based on either AVL trees or red-black trees. The tree algorithm used is just crucial — either AVL or red-black will be fine. De/serialization:In object-oriented computing, get to define some data something like would need for baking a cake — that is, lots of little pieces of data, some whole numbers, some floating point numbers, some character strings, arrays of those, etc., and call that definition a class.Well, can’t eat the recipe; instead from the recipe make a cake and call that an instance of the class. Can eat the instance. So, from one class, could have lots of instances, each with different data.Then, given a instance, might like to write that to a file or send it over TCP/IP. Okay, then serialize the instance, that is, convert it to just a string (serial) of bits. Send the bit string. And later deserialize the bit string back to an instance of the class. That little operation is now ubiquitous in computing.Was that software easy to implement? Not really, but it’s been done and heavily used. Of course, the AVL tree algorithm is named after its inventors Georgy Adelson-Velsky and Evgenii Landis and is very nicely documented in D. Knuth, Sorting and Searching. Red-black trees are likely documented in Robert Sedgewick and Kevin Wayne, Algorithms.Again, using a good tree algorithm is darned important. AVL and red-black are darned clever and crown jewels of computer science. Invent one of those in a weekend and won’t get much sleep.So, on a 1.8 GHz 32 bit processor, from my timings, my session state server can do the work for sending326.5306Web pages a second, that is, read from the session state server and, just before the page is sent, write to it.So, on an 8 core processor at 4.0 GHz, could do the work for sending ballpark8 * 4.0 * 326.5306 / 1.8 = 5,805Web pages a second.For the CapEx for such a server, let’s see: case and power supply, $40, processor, $165, motherboard, $100, 32 GB ECC main memory, $240, 1 TB hard disk drive, $60, keyboard, $40, screen, $100, video card, $25, operating system, $100, total40 + 165 + 100 + 240 + 60 + 40 + 100 + 25 + 100 = 870dollars. Computing costs have been going down!If one instance of session state takes 2000 bytes (B) and use 31 GB of main memory to store the most recent sessions, then the 31 GB can store31 * 10**9 / 2000 = 15,500,000instances of session state or enough for the most recent15,500,000 /( 5,805 * 60 ) = 45minutes. So, a user can be inactive for as long as 45 minutes before losing their session! Double main memory to 64 GB, on a suitable motherboard, and can make that acceptable inactive time 1 1/2 hours.From the 5,805 Web pages a second and 2000 bytes per session instance, get communications data rate with the session state server of5,805 * 2 * 2000 * 8 / ( 10**6 ) = 186Mbps (million bits per second). So, right, use the server farm LAN with 1 GbE or 10 GbE.The amount of code for such a server? Okay,8412 = file lines1751 = blank lines3468 = comment lines3193 = code lines2132 = code statementswould likely be shorter if I wrote it again.Right, could have used Redis. My guess was that writing my own would less work than understanding and making Redis work. And writing my own code would be much less work than understanding the Redis code in case I wanted to make any revisions! Ah, roll your own, DIY!Gee, a session state server for sending 5,805 Web pages a second is a bit abstract, so let’s get a scenario of what that might mean to a business:Assume the peak rate of sending pages is 5,805 per second and the average rate 24 x 7 is half that. Assume that each page sent has an average of 5 ads, and that, drawing from some KPCB Mary Meeker data, get paid, in effect, $2 per 1000 ads displayed (charge per 1000, CPM). Then get revenue of2 * 5 * 5,805 * 3600 * 24 * 30 / ( 2 * 1000 ) = 75,232,800dollars a month. So, a session state server with CapEx of less than $1000 can do the session state work for a significant business.Then two standard racks, each 72 inches high, of such servers, each in the 2U (1 U = 1.75 inches) size, that is, height, could be part of a major business. Sure, that would be72 / 3.5 = 20servers per rack and 40 servers in two racks.Then that would scale to annual revenue of40 * 12 * 75,232,800 = 36,111,744,000dollars. Amazing world we live in.Actually, might be able to get by with 1 U servers!With such arithmetic, can start to conclude that might be able to serve the world with a major business from a server farm in a few thousand square feet of floor space.For sending a peak of5,805Web pages a second with, say, each page with 500,000 bits, would use communications capacity of5,805 * 500,000 / ( 10**9 ) = 2.9Gbps. So, should use a 10 GbE LAN?For 40 times that much, would need to chat with Cisco or Juniper and some Internet backbone point of presence or some such.But 40 times 2.9 Gbps is still less than 120 Gbps, and the Internet backbone has been putting 40 Gbps on one wavelength for a long time, and apparently some people have been going for 100 Gbps.So, for 120 Gbps, we’re talking just three wavelengths on just one optical fiber that with dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) can carry ballpark 45 wavelengths per fiberhttp://www.fiber-optics.inf…with ballpark 144 fibers per cable. Right, there’s a lot of Internet backbone bandwidth out there!My undergrad physics prof encouraged us to consider careers combining electronics and optics!If can get the user traffic, then there’s a lot of annual revenue possible from filling a few wavelengths!Amazing times!
There are a few mistakes in your above arithmetic and equations.
A free beer, payable in Hoplewell Junction, NY, to the first reporter of a serious error!
Well commenting at AVC led to my opportunity at PICKUP… so there is that.
This brings me back to memories of when I owned and bought up web properties for their existing traffic — this was my pre-20s.The % of organic traffic and type-ins were a key metric in determining value.Many sites just had a lot of traffic going through them which isn’t a sign of its stable value, especially since someone could just be pumping traffic through it from any number of sources which could then suddenly drop-off after purchase.Organic traffic is really the key metric of value for the user — this is basically the same as active engagement rates that VCs look for — how sticky is it.The interesting thing with a blog that’s always from the scope of an individual is that the question of what happens when someone like Fred is no longer the main person posting to it?I have some evolved theories relating to this and figured out a practical way to help these organic traffic sources grow at a much more rapid pace. If the universe allows me then I’ll certainly try the experiment which I theorize would be wildly successful and popular; I’ll reach out to you @fredwilson:disqus if that possibility becomes within reach.
.You got your favorite jeans, polo, sweatshirt, boat shoes — and they make you feel comfortable.AVC is a favorite in much the same way.If Freddie wanted to drive traffic — not saying he does or does not — he would pile on on the subjects that drive the most traffic. This traffic sampling is how places like Bustle.com are able to dwarf the NYT in less than 3 years. They figure out what the reader wants and then they pile on.If Freddie wanted to maximize comments, he could do the same thing.Fred has a nice balance of content. Some of which I don’t particularly follow. I like his voice and his mind and if I never saw another link to a blog post about the basic income guaranty, I would be just fine.Sometimes, Fred throws out a topic and the commentariat jumps on it and sometimes, when the moon is just right, Fred writes with incredible emotion and insight. It is good writing and therefore good reading not just good food for comment.As to the youthful, easily intimidated would-be commentators — haha, good. Guys like me will keep y’all at the kiddy table until you pick up your plate, silver, crystal and TAKE a freakin’ seat.When did guys like @ccrystle:disqus become so damn sensitive?Let the kiddies find their own way. You will be working for someone for the rest of your life if you are afraid to hit a few keys and the Post icon.Develop a voice and hitch up your pants. Engage. Get in the game before it blows past you.But, hey, I could be wrong. It just doesn’t bother me to be wrong.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Bustle? Bustle? Never heard of it before you mentioned.It’s the type of place that they have to give antibiotics to the staff because they work so close together:http://www.bustle.com/aboutHmm, perhaps she is eating those tacos you speak of:http://www.bustle.com/artic…NYT has influence. Fred has influence. However one of the reasons that Fred has influence is that there appears to be activity on his blog so he would be taken more seriously for that reason. NYT of course is important. But Wapo used to be important as well as La Times. NYT has managed to stay relevant in the minds of others in the media as has the WSJ. I sense though that Fred is slowing down. One of his comments today confirmed this.
Speaking of feeling like a dinosaur . . . most of my web reading is driven by RSS feeds via my Feed Wrangler account. But I can’t think of a better way to not miss a post as part of my, “direct, consistent permission relationship with a” writer.I wonder if there is a correlation between RSS subscribers and those that consistently comment and participate on your site? Probably too much work to do, but I suspect there is.
I thought about that in the context of AVC and realized that we are most certainly a dinosaur. I publish using a wordpress instance running on a server in the cloud on my own domainThis is true of me, too, although my book and ideas blog runs on WordPress.com, rather than being self-hosted. Still, I can automatically download its archives every week and, if something happens to WordPress.com, I can self-host.Perhaps the biggest advantage is that discoverability of old posts is still quite high on blogs. People find Grant Writing Confidential posts all the time via simple search, in a way they’d never find tweets or Facebook posts.For that reason and others involving control I expect o be old school for a long time to come.
Dinosaurs get a bad rap. These creatures may be extinct today, but they roamed the planet for over 185 million years. Hardly a short run of dominance. We celebrate their existence in museums of “natural” history all over the world. Similarly, Fred’s blog is of a natural variety. It’s pure, organic and not gamed for growth. Something to be said for that, particularly in today’s world of digital manipulation.
I come in usually from Disqus comment emails, where I follow this blog. Apparently in the 1.41 %
AVC is on my Feedly and is part of my morning ritual. What attracts me to it, is not only does it give very useful tips for a startup entrepreneur like myself, it also covers various topics beyond the startup echo chamber.I also love the community as it brings various considered perspectives and is surprisingly troll-free.I do agree that Disqus needs a bit of tweaking though, especially on the mobile UX and discoverability – I wonder why it doesn’t do more cross-pollination with Twitter.
Half the kids on my team dont know what an RSS feed is.
How would you explain it? Like an API?
….and what did became of FAKE GRIMLOCK?
Still my number one read 🙂
AVC.com works for me. When I have a minute, I simply type in AV in my browser, wait for the autocomplete and tap enter. I guess you built it and we do come.
A while back I was trying to visit abc.com on my phone and it autocorrected to avc 🙂
google analytics direct traffic has some issues. any time google cannot identify the referrer, or if identifying the referrer could violate security protocols as defined by google, the traffic will get lumped into direct. this means any site with an SSL certificate (https to http transfer), most mobile apps, PDFs/word docs, 302 redirects that may be in place…..all that gets lumped into direct.
I think this post underestimates how good you are at creating amazing content. You could hop on any of those platforms and be successful because you’d create great content on any of them.
Disqus currently lists 168 comments on this post. If that is what being a dinosaur looks like, then I think there would be plenty of people who would sign up to be another dinosaur.
Your direct traffic is likely mostly coming from social sources as well, putting social on the top spot as traffic source. Clicks from within apps and messenger streams appear as direct traffic. This is called “dark social” traffic, a term coined by Alexis Madrigal in this article in The Atlantic in 2012 (http://www.theatlantic.com/….To confirm this, you can look for direct traffic that doesn’t land on the home page. People going directly to http://avc.com/2015/09/avc-… most likely didn’t type it in.
Just out of curiosity, I wonder what your numbers would look like if you engaged on Facebook. If you “syndicated” inside Facebook and made your posts super shareable within that platform, what would that do to the readership (and the quality of the community, which is amazing). Not suggesting you do that, but it’s an interesting thought.
SOMEONE SAID DINOSAUR?
You may need to think of AVC more in terms of a university. Maybe flat because people graduate and new “students” take their place.There are a few perpetual students… and some who become part of AVC faculty.Then there those who are loyal or addicted or both. And we like the free drinks.
true.i’ll shush and give up mine for a bit if someone wants it.
eh.. just smush yourself in, elbow on the bar, $20 in hand, make eye contact… done.
There aren’t a fixed number of seats here like at a bar. Not only that but one of the things that attracted me to AVC prior to making any comments was that many of the same people appeared to be popping up in the comments. So it’s the opposite of what Fred is saying and what you are saying. There was a pattern that gave a certain comfortability to the place.  So I first became familiar with the personalities and what they said. IIrc it was JLM, Arnold Waldstein, William Mougayar, Andy Swann, Shana and Charlie Crystel. For me, that repetition was what drew me in.And like with any “characters” some of my reactions were “who is this fucking guy?”. The absurdity of some of the things that they wrote drew me in. (And I have proudly carried on that tradition ..) See the chapter in the book (that I will never write) on “sitcom characters”.
1. COME INTO BAR2. REGULARS TAKE ALL STOOLS?3. DINO PUNCH!4. NOW THERE EMPTY SEATS.
I’ve been quieter lately…a few days in the past few weeks where I didn’t comment at all. That’s rare.
So crowded, nobody goes there anymore
It might be an interesting experiment. why Oct. 5th? start tomorrow. see what happens.
I don’t think its the presence of regulars so much as its the east coast early AM posting time. When Fred is west coast and posts at ‘normal’ hours, you get a different crop of people.
‘space’ is endless.. so many smart people… it takes confidence to post here, not space.
Interesting experiment. I’m not so sure it will work. I don’t think of commenting so much like trying to talk to people at a bar as getting on the mic at a Karaoke bar. I really don’t want to do that to an empty room or a room of five people where I’m the only one signed up to sing :)But maybe I’ll be proven wrong.
(Etc. Glad that I was not honored to be on your list but since I don’t respond to peer pressure doesn’t matter.)
@JimHirshfield:disqus a real trendsetter
I’ve been busy 😉
Upvote for Yogi-ism.
Now houses are so expensive no one can afford to buy one!
i’m in.gonna make a $500 contribution to my favorite charity if/every time i break the pledge of silence.
upvote for recognizing yogi-ism
Disagree. The bar is huge and the seats are unlimited. What makes the place interesting are the strong personalities. Cheers without Sam, Dianes, Norm, Cliff, Frasier, Lilith, Carla and Woody is not Cheers. Others, like Rebecca, could still show up and contribute.I’m at the bar everyday, but only take a seat when especially thirsty and in the mood to socialize.
I’m going teetotal in October so whoever wants to is welcome to my seat at the bar!!!
Food fight. Makes sense that you think it’s something that you are doing wrong (because you are a regular) vs. something that someone else needs to fix (a person to timid to comment). Nothing happens without effort and overcoming obstacles. If you don’t have the balls to break into making comments on a fucking blog good luck with purchasing agents. If you don’t get the shelf space for your bread, work harder don’t say it’s because the other guy is friends with the store manager. (I was that guy who was friends with the store manager who knocked off the other guy is what I am trying to say..) Said in my normal harsh way, that I know you love so much.
Exactly. Same thing I said in my other comment.
Disqus could fix part of that in the way comments sorted. Unfortunately you are correct upvotes do create that “problem”. However the way around that for anyone is simply to reply to the top comment and ride that wave.Note that Seth didn’t waste time making his comment at the end of the day. He made it early so it had the most chance of getting upvoted.
and the earliest postsPithy, short, cute and poetic also get a large amount of upvotes. Really stupid shit sometimes.Perhaps an idea is to block the upvote number until later in the day, when, “THE RESULTS ARE IN”. That way the bias would be taken out of the equation. No question people are more likely to upvote something that others have already upvoted.  If you’ve ever tried to give out samples of something make sure that you have others taking the samples even if they are fake customers. It has a very large effect in terms of making others pay attention (social proof) and also take advantage of what you are giving out.
At Bar Mitsvahs back in the day parents obsessed over who gets to light a candle (the ultimate honor) as well as the order of the candles.
Fred could fix some of this by simply replying to more comments.
Well all good points. Unfortunately I comment “the hundred crappy comments” primarily for myself I am selfish like that as you know.  I am actually a somewhat generous person with my time as anyone who has contacted me offline would find out.
“the earliest posts tend to get the biggest upvotes” agreed. and sometimes the earlier/upvoted posts are irrelevant (but often humourous). Feature for Disqus: delayed upvoting (on a timer); let the latecomers decide.
but my take is that typically new voices appear when the topic is outside of tech, so it’s not just us hogging the space
crowdsourcing always results in bias. Whomever votes first, leads the discussion.
He may be following your advice on muting a little better than the rest of us 🙂