It’s Arrington vs. Scoble over Podtech

Well, it seems that Twitter is good for something: I watched a blog war (or at least a skirmish) blow up in real time via the “micro-blogging” app that just got funded by Fred Wilson at Union Square. First, Robert Scoble said that he was in an all-staff meeting at the company — and that Mike Arrington “got a lot of things wrong” in his recent post on the status of Podtech.

To this, Mike responded on his Twitter — directly to Scoble — that:

“If I got the story wrong, its because John wasn’t being clear in how he describes the company.”

and

“It’s bullshit to call this out publicly. I assume the off-record conversation is now fair game for TechCrunch.”

Fair game for this latest post by Mike, in which he writes that the previous post was one “Podtech pleaded with me to write, to counter the massive negative publicity they’ve been getting around the blogosphere,” and that he agreed to write it “after two phone conversations with Furrier and some independent digging.” I actually thought that Mike was pretty fair in that initial post.

In any case, he says now that:

“I’ve kept most of my personal opinions about Podtech to myself so far. I haven’t for example, said that I personally find 90% of Podtech content just slightly more entertaining than watching paint dry.”

Ouch. He also says that:

“I write stuff how I see it, which is not the same thing as what the companies involved necessarily want to see. Never confuse TechCrunch with your PR or marketing team.”

Game on. Should be a fun TechCrunch party tonight 🙂

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Update:

In a Twitter post this morning, Scoble says:

“I’m tired of fighting with people in public about it. We’ll have the ultimate laugh if we make PodTech profitable … I certainly have lots of opportunities and would have left long ago if things were dire.

We ARE going through turbulence, though … and nearly every startup I know has gone through changes in direction, unstatisfactory employees, strategies that don’t work out etc …

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. My show is doing very well, though, and I’m having a ball personally.”

Update 2:

Scoble just posted this to his Twitter, saying Gillmor told him Arrington was right “about everything.” Mike responded within minutes on Crunchnotes with this post:

The funny thing is that Robert and I were immediately laughing together at the TechCrunch party, just an hour or so after the big fight on Friday. He apologized. I apologized. Then we shot some video.

This Just In: We’re just not that funny

Another one destined for the “No Surprise” file: HBO is planning to shut down its comedy-video site This Just In (I know, I’d never heard of it either) in August, according to Variety magazine. Why? Because — as one NBC executive admitted when the network shut down its InnerTube site, which was supposed to compete with YouTube — This Just In might as well have changed its URL to “nobodycomeshere.com.”

thisjustinlogo.pngTwo of the most succinct appraisals of this turkey come from a commenter on the TechCrunch post about it and from Om Malik at NewTeeVee. At TechCrunch, Ian Bell says: “Unfortunately this goes to show that you can’t just slap a site together, throw ads up on it, buy keywords and think it will be successful. A successful property requires its own culture and essentially a ‘soul’.” Bingo. And Om notes that gigantic conglomerates with multiple layers of bureaucracy and poisonous office politics are not exactly a great breeding ground for comedy:

“The big media, especially Time Warner (my former employer) is a tad clueless about this new video revolution. With a studio mentality, management by consensus and a bonus-driven culture, they are waddling in a world that moves at light speed.”

Double bingo. And examples abound of just how clueless network executives are, and how flinging money and press releases at something doesn’t amount to much in the world of online video: Come on down, Bud.tv — one of the most expensive, and yet almost criminally un-funny, sites you will ever see. And then there’s FunnyOrDie.com, which features Saturday Night Live star Will Farrell. Why does it work? Because it’s funny, that’s why.

Even the WashPost is having trouble

Fortune magazine has a great overview of the issues facing newspapers, using the Washington Post as a core example — the implicit argument being: If a great newspaper with a fantastic Web property like washingtonpost.com can’t make it work online, then who else has a chance? There are no easy answers, but the Fortune piece sparks plenty of questions.

snipshot_e4h890skc3f.jpgStarting right off the top, every newspaper of any size that wants to see the future they are staring down should pay close attention to the example used in the lead, of the sports reporter who files breaking news to his blog, then does audio clips and podcasts and online Q&A sessions and so on. The piece also contained a piece of information about the Washington Post that I didn’t know: almost half of Post Co.’s revenue comes from its educational division, which has provided it with a considerable amount of support while it experiments with online, just as the Toronto Star’s newspaper unit has been supported by its Harlequin book division.

My friend Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 — and others such as Lost Remote — have already put their fingers on the crucial point that the newspaper industry is struggling with: namely, when your entire business model is predicated on scarcity (i.e., the scarcity of pages for advertising), how do you deal with the sudden abundance that the Internet has created? Supply and demand gets thrown out the window and other dynamics take hold.

Fred shows some VC love for Twitter

File this one under the “No Surprise” heading in the VC database: Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, the guy who is probably the most closely identified with Web 2.0 apps — if only because he seems to have one of every kind of Web widget in the sidebars on his blog — has funded Twitter, the micro-blogging service with the 140-character limit.

snipshot_e4197axwj5mt.jpgFor anyone unfamiliar with Twitter, it is like the status update on Facebook but without the Facebook part. It is a quick way of updating people on what you’re doing/thinking/feeling/eating, etc. If you’re Robert Scoble, it’s a way for you to spam thousands of people with details on your every thought and movement (just kidding, Scobie), and there are add-ons like the audio Twittergram and so on that I don’t really know anything about. At the moment, with Twitter and Facebook and Pownce.com and MSN and GTalk and half a dozen other things, I have so many status update services that I’m overwhelmed.

In other words, I’ve pretty much given up, and Twitter now just pushes blog posts out to whoever is following me, and I track some other people’s blog posts the same way. Is it worth investing in? Fred seems to think so (and so do Marc Andreessen and some others), although even Fred admits he’s not sure what the business model is. I’m not sure either.