To turn around the phrase on its head, on the web, everyone knows you're a dog. The internet may provide anonymity to individuals, but it leaves publishers nowhere to hide. A reader emails in about Tony Perkins, 'creator' and editor-in-chief of AlwaysOn, his news site for venture capitalists and other members of the Silicon Valley elite.
I love Tony Perkins to death, but you could a good smoking gun on how small the traffic to alwayson-network really is, and yet how much "advertisers" pay Tony. It's because it's a "client buy." In other words, Larry Ellison likes writing about himself and reading about his CEO and SV colleagues—and instructs his agencies to include alwayson in proposals. There's nothing illegal or even shady about it—but yet it's a little offputting. Tony has CEOs and VCs pay to write about themselves for a site that is largely read by other CEOs and VCs. It's not a "real media site," whatever that is.
For those of you who don't remember, Tony Perkins used to own Red Herring magazine, in its heyday, during the boom. The Herring was the soulmate of the New Yorker: impressive, as it sat on tables, but a duty rather than a pleasure, and more often bought than actually consumed. The appearance of influence was sufficient, nevertheless, to make the Red Herring, for a brief moment, a gloriously lucrative vehicle of corporate self-promotion. Ah, print.
Perkins' new venture, AlwaysOn, has much the same lumbering style, and business model, playing to the egos of its contributors more than the curiosity of its readers. The one flaw? On the web, everything is measured, including AlwaysOn's readership, which is miniscule, even for a site that calls itself an insiders' network. AlwaysOn: not any dog, but a chihuahua.