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Content shakeout alert: Gigaom runs out of money, will shut down

By David Holmes , written on March 9, 2015

From The News Desk

The past six months haven't been kind to some of the earliest tech blogs. Last November, ReadWrite was put up for sale* by SAY Media who threw in the towel on its content properties. Now, multiple staffers have confirmed on Twitter that Gigaom will shut down.

Why? According to senior writer Mathew Ingram, it simply ran out of cash.

(Update: Gigaom's management has written a post addressing the shutdown, stating that the company is "unable to pay its creditors in full at this time" and "all operations have ceased.")

The company was founded in 2006 by former Forbes journalist Om Malik to cover technology with a focus on startups. Since then, the company has raised $22.3 million in venture capital. Its most recent round came in February of 2014, raising an $8 million Series F from True Ventures, Alloy Ventures, Shea Ventures, and Reed Elsevier Ventures. That same month, Malik stepped away from journalism to become a full-time partner at True Ventures.

To its credit, Gigaom's reporting and analysis often went beyond the press release, particularly in its excellent coverage of the cleantech industry. But I stopped reading Gigaom last October when it published a piece of sponsored content bought and paid for by the National Security Agency. (That page is still live, but the story appears to be missing). It was a fairly innocuous post; essentially a job listing. But the fact that a journalistic organization -- particularly one that covers technology -- would choose arguably the most anti-journalist organization on the planet as a publishing partner, was not only a massive conflict of interest. It was also a slap in the face of any journalist who was ever targeted for surveillance or smearing by the US defense apparatus.

“It violated everything that you should be thinking about as a publisher,” Sam Slaughter, VP of Content at the native advertising firm Contently, told me. “In terms of what you put in front of your readers, what you cover, whether your readership should trust you, all of these things. My jaw hit the floor.”

Unfortunately for Gigaom, cashing checks from the NSA just wasn't enough to save it.

When ReadWrite was sold last November, the Awl's Choire Sicha tweeted“THIS IS WHEN THE GREAT CONTENT SHAKEOUT BEGAN, REMEMBER THIS DAY.” At the time, I was skeptical that the ReadWrite news was a harbinger of things to come. But after today's news? Venture funded content companies, you are on watch.

  • CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that ReadWrite was sold last November. It was actually put up for sale in November and sold in February.