What AOL and SAY: Media have in common: a platform

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

When the two acquisitions of the week meet: AOL’s new purchase TechCrunch talking to the new CEO of SAY:Media:

Let’s be honest, that’s a great example of how talking heads video can be dull, but there is some interesting content in there if you can stand to work through it. And I think SAY: Media’s stated mission of platform-and-monetisation ties in interestingly with [Mike Arrington’s stated reasons for joining AOL](http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/28/why-we-sold-techcrunch-to-aol-and-where-we-go-from-here/):
> The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering driven company.

AOL has Blogsmith – the platform it runs its successful network of blogs on. And that’s one of the dirty secrets of the new age of publishing: it’s cheap and easy to get going, but once you hit a certain volume of success, it gets real hard to scale things well. Techcrunch has already outsourced a bunch of its technology: it’s running on the WordPress.com platform and using Disqus for comments. And, if we take Arrington at his word, that wasn’t enough to take the pressure off.

This all feels like part of a trend away from the “hobbyist” days of the web, where you hosted things on your own servers, and ran everything yourself, to an era of companies who will handle hosting and monetisation for you – leaving you free to produce (and therefore live-or-die by) the content. 
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.