Friendfeed and GigaOm announce closures as Apple launches new products

While Apple launched new products including MacBooks and Watches, two pioneering services announced they would be closing. Friendfeed was a useful social network which combined short updates similar to Twitter with the ability to easily collect and aggregate your content from a huge variety of sources, into one feed. It launched back in 2007, and the service and team had been acquired by Facebook in 2009.

FriendFeedLogo

There’s no official news beyond the April 2015 closure date, but there is some unofficial code on Github to export your data if you wish.

And at the same time, one of the first big independent tech blogs has ceased operations. GigaOm originally launched in the mid-2000s, and became a full time job for founder Om Malik in 2006. It since acquired PaidContent, launched a paid Research area and various events etc.

GigaOm Logo

It’s sad news for those of us who have followed the site closely for 8+ years, and for the team of around 70 employees, although it may be wound down, acquired or who knows what else. It is known that the latest $8 million round of funding took place 12 months ago, but it has ceased operations due to being unable to pay creditors.

Whilst it’s unfortunate for all involved, including the millions of readers, it’s important to remember that the closure of GigaOm is more a reflection of the economics of an individual business. FriendFeed, meanwhile, reflects the trend for social network acquisition by the big players in the space – Facebook obviously went on to pick up Instagram and WhatsApp with far, far larger userbases and bigger brands.

Tech blogs, they are a-changing

It’s a bit of a strange time for the digital publishing world, and tech blogs in particular, as they seem to be going through the kind of upheaval you’d be forgiven for presuming was a print monopoly.

So far we’ve had Techcrunch acquired by AOL, shortly followed by most of the best reasons to read Techcrunch rapidly leaving, and we’ve seen Paul Carr is launching The New Gambit, which is an e-reader/tablet subscription only ‘Economist as written by The Daily Show’.

We’ve recently had ReadWriteWeb acquired by SAY Media, which was preceded by Marshall Kirkpatrick announcing he’ll still be posting on the site, but is stepping back from other activities to build his own startup (which is one that sounds particularly exciting.)

Meanwhile Guardian News and Media has announced it is selling ContentNext, the parent of PaidContent.

On the gadget side, The Verge arrived, formed by the former core of Engadget.

And today at some point we should see the arrival of The Kernel, the new project from Milo Yiannopolous.

The only constant is change

It feels like there’s a trend for incumbent owners/publishers to be trying to get out now as revenues are unlikely to skyrocket – especially when you compare web publishing with location-based apps, social games, or winning Euromillions. And we’ll have to wait through the transition period to know whether those venerable old grandfathers of digital are worth sticking with.

Meanwhile, those who were senior figures and who’ve wanted to create their own products and businesses have struck out to try just that.

And somewhere there are some brilliant, exciting and interesting new titles and blogs out there – the biggest challenge is locating them at an early stage, and it’s a challenge which no one still seems to have cracked despite all of the content discovery, language analysis, and other mechanisms for sharing content. It’s still mainly about the existing names and the content they are producing – so if you have any recommendations for new sites and blogs, please do share them…

Personally, I think there are still some big gaps and opportunities for digital content on the web, along with the latest gold rush for mobile, tablet and e-reader publications. If not, I wouldn’t still be fascinated with trying to establish my own titles as a viable business which can grow and one day support a staffed business. But there’s not a tech news blog among them for various reasons.

But what is crystal clear and is being proven yet again is that the era of years of stability in any form of publishing have gone forever – print is subject to continued transformation and decline into a different method of survival for some titles and formats, whilst the move to digital brings only more challenges and a need for continual evolution. I suspect the two keys to success are being able to cope with constant changes under your feet whilst also accepting the fact that digital publishing is a longterm business which can be profitable, but isn’t goldmine. Although when it comes to blogging, I can point you in the direction of a million eBooks which would try to convince you otherwise…