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The life-span of startup review sites…

It’s quite interesting. Michael Arrington deleted my comment yesterday, linking to an Alexa chart of Techcrunch traffic and page views, from the time they started out. All I’d done was link to the chart…seriously…that’s it.

Of course, here are the stats from Alexa. I still haven’t quite bought into the accuracy of Feedburner stats(although I think the tool itself is fantastic).

Techcrunch Traffic

Techcrunch Traffic

Techcrunch- Page Views

Techcrunch- Page Views

Why was I looking this up?

Because I’m starting to see a trend on Techcrunch. There is an increasing(albeit relatively minor) volume of noise in there, fueled by none other than the guys at TC. Of course, they are free to write about whatever they want, but the expectation is that they do reviews of startups, and of new things that old companies are doing. It’s right there on their “About us” page.

I had written about this on the WeareIndia blog way in February 2008; more importantly, Umair Haque had spoken about this first..that Techcrunch might have peaked.

Here’s what he’d said: “I’m gonna make a prediction. TechCrunch (etc) are peaking. Without investing in the community – instead of just endlessly playing the community against itself – further growth (real growth, not just beta) is going to be more and more costly.
I’m gonna call this set of dynamics the TechCrunch Effect. It’s the opposite of building a community. Instead of making a set of people with similar interests better off, you wedge them and divide them.
Yes, you can get attention that way – by tapping the dynamics of competition. No, you can’t sustain it – because the returns to competition are dominated by the returns to cooperation in a world where anyone can compete.

I think the graph above tells the rest of the story. You should also head on over to Alexa and check out the PageViews over time. I can understand lesser traffic, but when pageviews decline like that, it generally means that your time is up.

However, I’m not the kind to make an example out of one aberration. So I picked up stats for ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, Last100, and NewTeeVee..just for shits and giggles, and here’s what I found:

The smaller sites(NewTeeVee/Last100) haven’t shown the growth curves that RWW/TC have. And neither are they showing the same steep decline curves.

RWW/Mashable/Last100

RWW/Mashable/Last100

I wish I had numbers at hand to tell you %age declines for each site from day 1 to day N, but I don’t. But I’ve been losing sleep over these graphs and I keep arriving at one conclusion only: every start-up review site has a life-span.

That life-span is defined by quite a few factors, and IMHO, they could be prioritized as:

  1. Focus: do what you promised to do, and do it well
  2. Class: ignore what others are doing, so you can stick to #1- Focus. Don’t gloat, speak ill of others, or talk about Karma. Especially when you don’t know that the results of “bad karma” don’t kick in until the next life. =)
  3. Quality: Just because Feedburner says that YOU have a million daily readers, doesn’t naturally imply that the rest of us are idiots. Focus on quality…please don’t feed us shit. We get a lot of that everyday, anyway. And we know it when we see it.
  4. Engagement: Engaging your users isn’t the same as dueling with them. Figure out meaningful ways for your users to participate on your site, rather than sparking off a pissing contest every other Sunday.
  5. Lose the attitude: A spunky nonchalance about being able to do/say/write what you want on your blog may appeal to the ones who enjoy spunk. For the rest of us, it’s really irritiating. So, pretty please, with sugar on top, lose the attitude.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I’ve got time for, right now.

We have a startup to run, so just thought I’d send in a not-so-subtle note to Mike Arrington and his comrades at Techcrunch.

(Sure, word to RWW, Last100, Mashable, and New Tee Vee as well..)

  • @LostCredibility - I don't know how it took you so long to get a clue, but MA has never been unbiased. Ever.

  • LostCredibility

    Their fall started when they relentlessly attacked Yahoo and Yang.

    If you talk about politics and continuously offend one party, be prepared to lose half your audience in one swoop. The same applies in technology.

    His opinion can no longer be considered unbiased and he has become a media buffoon.

    Morale: cherish your credibility, for is the only one you got.

  • "It’s quite interesting. Michael Arrington deleted my comment yesterday..." - I am tempted... but I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.

    I'm totally with you on techcrunch deviating from the community approach to the en masse approach.

    Case in point: the other day there was an article on TC on the mortgage crisis and role CRA played in it.

    Lotta crunch, but where was the tech?

  • Thanks for writing, Gideon.
    I still feel like there's something to be said for the lack of objectivity in TC these days, don't you?

  • Sorry, but Alexa stats are completely fictional. I know this from my own sites - no correlation whatsoever between my traffic growth/shrinkage, and what Alexa shows.

    I find Google Trends and Compete much more accurate in terms of up/down direction. These both show TechCrunch still growing, albeit more slowly than in the past.

  • thanks Preetam. Nice to connect with you.

  • TechCrunch's feedburner account has dropped significantly which is something to consider

  • Yes, I think the focus will increasingly move towards objective reviews(like the kind you have going on tinycrunch).

    5 small bullet points...succinct messages > that's what'll do the trick.

    good luck, mate!

  • Not sure about TechCrunch but Mashable has definitely seen its time.

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