At about 11 a.m. Pacific time this morning, Jim Louderback (CEO of Revision3) posted on the official Rev3 blog that they would be dropping a number of shows and letting go some very prominent online personalities. The news was first picked up when Leo Laporte tweeted about it, followed by numerous retweets and many other blogs grabbing the news.
After talking with a few friends and coworkers (some who completely understood, some who didn’t), I found myself being asked the same question by quite a few people – “What do you think is going to happen now?”
In my opinion, my answer got progressively better throughout the day. As more information came in, I was able to better structure what I had to say, and I’m going to try and reiterate my thoughts in completion.
1. Before we talk about what will happen, we have to talk about what HAS happened.
In the past, we’ve seen economic downturns. We’ve even seen the internet dynamically changed. And in these times, whether web-based, retail, service, or any other business type, the entities that survive are almost always the ones that recognize things need to change early. Whether this comes in the form of layoffs, cost-cutting, decreased expansion, or any combination of these, it is clear that in order to survive you must be lean from the get go.
Web-based startups are everywhere these days. Many have received funding in the form of venture money or from angel investors. However, this often fuels the creative and fun habits of these businesses; while not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes you simply have to watch what you spend where. Therefore, even when you’ve just received $10 Million just 10 days ago, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions.
2. Rev3 has high(er) production costs.
If you’ve spent any time on the Revision3 website watching their vidcasts, you may have noticed some things. They have a ton of very intelligent, very great people working for them. They have professionally outfitted studios and sets. They use pro equipment, with plenty of cameras that most consumers are never going to purchase. While this is important and ensures that their production quality is top-notch (and arguably better than many TV studios) it also ensures that production costs are very high. Many people will note that with a decent consumer-level camcorder, a small mixing board, and an iMac, one can create videos with equal production quality (including edits and effects) to those of a company like Rev3.
3. Rev3 is was an AMAZING content aggregator.
Forget producing the videos. Forget having Jim Louderback as CEO, and Kevin Rose and Jay Addelson as founders. Names mean nothing. It’s the fact that these names and their teams have put together a video content aggregator that is second to none on the web. Bringing together everything from Tekzilla to Diggnation to Wine Library TV, Rev3 was said to be #1 in its field – until today.
Besides layoffs and dropping certain shows (PopSiren and Internet Superstar; some of my favorites) Revision3 was unable to renew contracts to distribute Wine Library and Epic Fu. This is a serious blow. The Rev3 lineup was great, and along with those two shows, unstoppable. Anyone who has ever watched Gary Vaynerchuk speak, whether in person or on the web/TV/Radio, knows that he is absolutely riveting. Losing Gary is like NBC losing Couric – they’ll survive and do great, but a decent following is going, too.
Ok… Get to the point!
So here’s what I think. Anyone with a decent idea of how to produce video can create a GREAT video podcast with the right content. Ask @garyvee. There is a TON of great content out there – many writers/podcasters/vidcasters who just want to get their message out, about whatever it is they have to say. And there are now a few freelance experts (I’m looking at you Sarah and Martin and co.) who are definitely going to be ready to kick some ass.
I think that, whether it’s Revision3 or not, someone is going to come along and begin to create a new entity, that is focused on production and aggregation, but without the frills, the funding, or the fuss. I see a movement back to the good ol’ days of web startups, where facebooks and diggs were founded in dorm rooms and apartments. I think that great content is going to surface all over the net, even more so than ever before, and that people are going to be looking for a place to see it all without scouring multiple sites all day. iTunes will be a start, but we need a portal to content that is readily available anywhere, anytime. It will come.
This is not me saying I hate Rev3, if anything, I love them more than ever for knowing the best thing to do for the company and how to properly handle the events at hand. I hope they are as successful as ever, and know that with their executive team they’ll do a phenomenal job. I just hope they can handle the competition.