I realize there are plenty of people out there who either don’t know or don’t care about the video-blog known as Rocketboom or the sordid tale of Amanda Congdon’s sudden departure as host — or who believe, like my friend Stuart, that the fuss over it is a sign that the Web 2.0 bubble is about to pop. But there must be plenty who do care, because the posts I’ve written about it over the past few days have produced traffic levels on this blog that are orders of magnitude larger than I have ever seen before. And not just from the U.S., but from Singapore, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Israel and Finland.
But I’m not interested in writing about it because of the traffic (honest). I’m interested because as several people have pointed out, this is the kind of thing that happens all the time — creative differences between producer and host, controlling shareholder and employee, manager and talent, or however you want to describe it — but we hardly ever hear about it except in Variety magazine or years later in some tell-all book. Is it just sordid gossip and dirty-laundry airing? Maybe. But it’s also, as Jason Calacanis has noted, a hard-core lesson in how to handle a creative business, and a small startup, and it is all being played out in public.
To that end (and yes, also because it’s the weekend and I’m bored), I watched this video clip of Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron speaking here in Toronto at Eli Singer’s Casecamp, in which he spends almost half an hour talking about the events of the past few weeks, including the morning he woke up to find an email with a link to Amanda’s tearful farewell video.
For what it’s worth, he is not defensive at all, nor does he make Amanda out to be a bad person — but he does make it clear that she pulled the trigger and (as far as he is concerned) misrepresented what was happening behind the scenes. It’s also interesting to hear his thoughts about how to handle it — how he wanted to tell his side of the story right away but his sister told him not to, how he tried to come up with a plan to keep the show going, how he went through several different scenarios and which ones he rejected. Fascinating stuff.
Bryce Johnson of Chicken Test says he took the video down because Andrew asked him to, but he has since put it back up. I’m glad Andrew reconsidered, because I thought he told his side of the story in a very honest and engaging way. Oh yes — and if you feel the need to go back and relive some of those past shows with Amanda, they are here. And just to set the record straight, Andrew has also posted a brief note about his contributions to the show here.