It’s always nice to see startups — particularly those in the social-media, Web 2.0-type landscape — get some funding, so I don’t want to dump on Gather.com, which has not only received $6-million in financing from Lotus founder Jim Manzi and VC group Allen & Co., but is also the subject of a laudatory article in the Boston Globe.

Still, I have to wonder what Gather.com has that’s worth $6-million (or maybe I have an unrealistic view of how much $6-million is nowadays). I’ve checked the site out several times, and apart from a garish and cluttered design that I find hard on the eyes, I don’t see much to make it stand out from the crowd — and it is a crowd (Andrew Watson also seems skeptical, as does Ben Barren and Kent Newsome). Not only are there old standbys like About.com (owned by the New York Times group, which also owns the Boston Globe), which also happens to be garish and cluttered, but there are dozens of startups from Digg.com and Reddit.com to more elaborate ventures.

For example, there are sites like PersonalBee.com and a news- and blog-oriented site called Newsvine.com — both of which I am beta-testing as a contributor. When it comes to design and layout, Newsvine wins hands down, and I find the way articles are contributed and voted on, plus the live chatting, to be very interesting features. Whether either one will last I don’t know. There are also local news ventures such as Backfence.com — which seems a bit like a vacant lot waiting for a party, in many ways — and others too numerous to mention, such as Squidoo.com.

Will any of these startups find success, or will they all? It’s a bit of a crapshoot at the moment. Fun to watch, but nerve-wracking to work in, I imagine. Steve Rubel says there is a Web 2.0 crash coming.

Update:

Mike Arrington of TechChrunch notes that Inform.com — which has been through a bit of a remake after some bad early reviews — is also pursuing this model. And Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. (not surprisingly) prefers a different approach. My friend Paul Kedrosky says Gather is “AOL-lite-lite for the blogosphere” and that it just might succeed because some people want that. I think Kareem has a good point about Gather too in his recent post.

About the author

Mathew 2414 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

25 Responses to “Shall we Gather at the (funding) river”
  1. An entrepreneur who always thinks along the lines of everyone else will produce a product or service just like everyone else’s. That’s usually a bad thing. So it is with raised brow that I watch the plucking of the Gather.com feathers by seeminglyevery single tech pundit on the interweb. I had never really checked out Gather before two weeks ago when a couple of reporters asked me about the company, but this week seems to be the week to pass judgement on them. I think the site, just like all sites,

  2. right now that will compete with Gather with what we think will have better blog cred and technology. Read – Blogwatcher Gather.com gathers some capital (News.com) Read – Gather Aims to Build a Blog Content Marketplace (Micropersuasion) Read -Shall we Gather at the (funding) river(Mathew Ingram) Posted to Media | TrackBack (0)

  3. r which has won $6 million in venture capital in its quest to become the eBay for blog writers. Gather wants to bring together amateur writers to compete with About.com’s experts. So far it’s brought out the critics.Mathew Ingrim . Kareem Mayan. Om Malik Jason Calacanis. Could Yahoo Music become Apple iPod’s Achilles’s heel? Microsoft will continue to develop the Office product for the Mac for at least the next five years.

  4. At which point, I wonder how Gather will gather its writers and manage the editorial quality. Kareem suggests that revenue sharing won’t hook bloggers. I’m with him. This is a conversation for me (and indulgence). Techcrunch covers this as doesMathew Ingram. Steve thinks there is a Web 2.0 crash coming. He is as right on that as predicting the Sun will come up tomorrow. Steve is also right that unless they plug into the ecosystem they will fail. Information is a commodity in the Web 2.0 market and

  5. Just the sort of thing that Jason and Nick did two years ago, without venture capital funding. And did it quite well. Jason lets loose on his blog. There are others who are attempting this same model, Squidoo, Backfence, PersonalBee etc etc etc.Mathew Ingram says it well when he writes, “Will any of these startups find success, or will they all? It’s a bit of a crapshoot at the moment. Fun to watch, but nerve-wracking to work in, I imagine.” My other Canadian friend

  6. mediums? I know the music industry is flipping over. I can’t wait to see this extend to the video medium. Andrew has some questions too, Kent and I , and pretty much everyone are wondering the same things. Some people are really interested in themonatizationof this, it could be significant, or not. . Recomendations to the Gather Staff You need a case study, or a success story to show how this model is or is not working –quickly. It should published to a reputable publication.

  7. (meaning at the end of the day that they do not trust tags to create their directory). Bad idea. Go with the tags, drop the taxonomy and see what develops. Bloggers are generally giving Gather, which boasts $6 million in funding, a big thumbs down.Mathew Ingram does a particularly good job in talking about all the competitors. He left out the massively funded Inform.com though, another service that has struggled with product direction but that is clearly taking

  8. Just the sort of thing that Jason and Nick did two years ago, without venture capital funding. And did it quite well. Jason lets loose on his blog. There are others who are attempting this same model, Squidoo, Backfence, PersonalBee etc etc etc.Mathew Ingram says it well when he writes, “Will any of these startups find success, or will they all? It’s a bit of a crapshoot at the moment. Fun to watch, but nerve-wracking to work in, I imagine.” My other Canadian friend

  9. right now that will compete with Gather with what we think will have better blog cred and technology. Read – Blogwatcher Gather.com gathers some capital (News.com) Read – Gather Aims to Build a Blog Content Marketplace (Micropersuasion) Read -Shall we Gather at the (funding) river(Mathew Ingram)

  10. skeptical takes. However, rather than repeat myself shouting to the wind, the relevant data for this post is that right in the middle of that webpage is a link for Boston.com’s page on Greater Boston blogs and podcasts

  11. VC’s Web 2.0 Madness

    Mathew Ingram
    is puzzled by Gather.com’s ability to raise $6-million in venture
    equity from a group of investors that includes Lotus founder Jim Manzi.
    Mathew points out there is little to distinguish Gather.com from the
    growing number of Web star…

  12. […] Update: looks like Gather.com has scored some modest funding. Mathew Wingram is a little suspicious of the VC-worthiness of the service. Wonder if he knows about its public radio ties. tags: local(t)   click (t) for Technorati tag search […]

  13. […] So what kind of revolution is Gather going to unleash? They will pay bloggers/contributors money to write, and if the story is popular, then the contributors will make a lot of money. Just the sort of thing that Jason and Nick did two years ago, without venture capital funding. And did it quite well. Jason lets loose on his blog. There are others who are attempting this same model, Squidoo, Backfence, PersonalBee etc etc etc. Mathew Ingram says it well when he writes, “Will any of these startups find success, or will they all? It’s a bit of a crapshoot at the moment. Fun to watch, but nerve-wracking to work in, I imagine.” My other Canadian friend Mark Evans takes an even tougher stance. “Gather.com epitomizes what I increasingly see as a troubling Web 2.0 trend in which VCs jump on start-ups amid the fear of missing out on the action,” he writes. […]

  14. […] The site raised $6 mln of venture capital, and so far its top-rated article is someone’s plan to go to France in the nea future. I expected to see a traditional AdSense honeypot scheme, but apparently they rolled their own ad system, and the writers will be rated on the amount of pageviews they produced. […]

  15. Personally, I don’t think the proposition of paying bloggers for their writing will be the “winning concept” that the VCs are likely betting on with $6 million.

    Now, I’m biased (heh…) but I see a valuable proposition in offering bloggers a grassroots-built network where they get free review materials, professional guidance in terms of story writing *and* free editing services, and a platform in which to hit a much wider audience than in the smaller pond of an individual blog. The reader is then served by finding a one-stop shop, an online magazine of superior blogging.

    Eric Berlin
    Executive Producer
    Blogcritics.org

  16. Tinfoil hats, Gather criticism (and Darth pix)

    In today’s IT Blogwatch, we look at serious allegations that the recent WMF vulnerability was actually a deliberate Microsoft backdoor in Windows, and also at how startups ‘gather’ funding. Not to mention what happens when Darth Vader gets his passp…

  17. Nice article….I’m amazed by how I’m finding links to aggregation sites everywhere! How many are in this game? What are their competitive differentiators? The differences seem few and far between.

    Still, I’m on the hunt for one that smartly aggregates so that I can have stuff at-my-fingertips. Did a blog post yesterday about this too: http://borsch.typepad.com/ctd/2006/01/information_ove.html

    Aggregating links is easy. Putting them in to some new form is easy too. What’s hard is parsing, analyzing and presenting content within those links. User-centric ranking sites (e.g., Digg) are pretty cool, but what would be cooler would be to have this kind of social promotion *after* the machine parsing occurred…giving a reader more targeted and higher value content.

    I’m growing weary of all the aggregators.


    Steve

  18. […] New cit j site Gather gets no love from the blogosphere’s top pundits. TechCrunch doesn’t like the design or the rigid taxonomy, and doesn’t think the revenue sharing will work. Matthew Ingram says I’ve checked the site out several times, and apart from a garish and cluttered design that I find hard on the eyes, I don’t see much to make it stand out from the crowd — and it is a crowd. Jason Calacanis snarks on a Boston Globe article about Gather that dares to not mention WIN …. yeah, some day you’ll be able to make living from blogging–it’s crazy! That someday happen a couple of years ago, but who’s counting right? Who wrote this story anyway?!?! And Om Malik follows They [Gather.com] will pay bloggers/contributors money to write, and if the story is popular, then the contributors will make a lot of money. Just the sort of thing that Jason and Nick did two years ago, without venture capital funding. Gotta say it’s not at all like what Gawker and WIN do. […]

  19. News Bump is the best of these that I’ve seen. The interface is clean and the content just seems more interesting than the others.

  20. Thanks, er… BigPig. I haven’t tried that one yet, but I will.

  21. CITIZEN JOURNALISM GONE BAD?… GATHER GETS $6M AND ASSOCIATED CONTENT GETS $5.4M

    Some of the buzz around the blogosphere is created by the heavy knocking sound on Gather.com’s (is it Gather, which is on the website, or Gather.com?) business model and a lot of questions about its future. They closed a $6 million round from Jim Manz…

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