Good Read: Content Businesses Don’t Scale Anymore

Heads up on a great read over at

Content Businesses Don’t Scale Anymore

Can anyone think of a content business — meaning a company that produces original content — that has scaled dramatically in recent years? I can’t. Look at the businesses that have scaled — Google, MySpace, YouTube — all platforms for content, but not producers of content. Compare those to original content businesses like Weblogs, Inc., Gawker, TechCrunch, Paid Content — they are successful at their scale, but that scale is still tiny compared to the scale of the aggregation businesses. Even portals like AOL and Yahoo are much more aggregators of content than original producers of content.

For those of us content with mom and pop web businesses, there is still promise:

The comparison to the middle class is exactly right — content businesses will have a share of the welath, but they will never scale to be “wealthy” like the aggregators.

So does that mean that content creation will forever be a small business? Likely, yes, unless you can aggregate your way up to scale — this is what Weblogs Inc attempted, realizing that none of its blogs would ever be a big business unto itself — aggregation also enables an internal network effect that gooses the scale. But even Weblogs is still dwarfed by the aggregator businesses, even after it was acquired by one (AOL).

Basically, if you’re looking for a Google-Type-Fortune on the web, look at doing what Google does: Mash up other peoples content in a useful visitor served way or go MySpace/YouTube-Style and explode with user generated content.

But there’s still some smaller pots of gold for the rest of us ;).


I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.