So, the year our economy tanked is ending today and a new year, complete with a smarter president and a sobered American populace, is about to start. Not soon enough, folks.
I’m all about looking ahead, but what would I call out as memorable happenings for 2008 from my little vantage point?
1. BlogHer went large
Not only did feel good and have good values women’s network site BlogHer raise enough $$ in a B round to suggest a $38MM valuation might be possible, it got an investment(aka strategic partnership) from Web 1.0 women’s network NCBi/iVillage, which must have made everyone on the team in general and former women.com exec editor and BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone in particular feel like a baton had been passed. Even more, BlogHer birthed a book, became THE destination for Mommybloggers, and hired slews of people, proving the scrappy underdog was now the Man (okay, I mean, the Wo-man).
2. Sex sites flopped, but new ones showed up.
Losses: Famous divorced sex blogger Jefferson of One Life, Take Two, basically took his blog offline after some heavy-duty personal issues blew up .
Brilliant writer/sexworker/feminist troublemaker Melissa Grant Gira went from the joy of a highly visible job sexing the Silicon Valley economy at Valleywag to freelancer and start-up queen (boffery.com)
Gains: Amelia McDonell-Parry and Catherine Strawn and a gang of others started the oh so appealing The Frisky, a sex & relationships site that not only features Susannah Breslin of The Reverse Cowgirl Fame, but actually has hawt and funny articles (often, both at once.)
Sarah Dopp came out from behind another name and owned up to building genderfork, a celebration of androgyny and rolling your own, and Sinclair Sexsmith, a hot boi blogger, returned the favor with Queer Eye Candy, for those of every sexual persuasion who like to look.
3. Tech incubators, bar camps, and start-up weekends became cool. As did giving the lucky start-ups large sums of cash to fund nice offices and new iPhones (but not Aeron chairs)
. Maybe it was the vantage point of a summer in Boulder at incubator ground zero (TechStars), and the fact that 60% of the folks laid off from Yahoo! with me started their own companies (or went to start-ups), but there were moments when getting funding seemed like the 00s answer to the depression’s stay awake and dance contests, or more complicated versions of the 50s Queen for a Day (most for guys, and with spreadsheets, this time.)
4. Crowd-sourcing became the new quality, aka if it’s high up on DIGG, it’s gotta be good.
Even as Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch gripped the Web 2.0 news space even more tightly than in 2007 (and with so many more sites, events, and writers), squirming digerati developed new interest in the wisdom of crowds, with Seesmic founder and LeWeb organizer Loic LeMeur proclaiming that the biggest need for twitter was to match a poster’s identity and their authority so we could appraise their idea BEFORE we read it (he may live in Palo Alto, but that sounds so French!)
5. Giving is good, and social media helps you self-organize for change.
Pistachio and Beth Kanter used twitter, and facebook, to raise funds for good causes. The Knight Foundation and The McArthur Foundation(Note: I have connections to Knight) employed transparent tools to help give $$ away. Of course, the ultimate was the Obama campaign, whose gift that keeps on giving was to never stop selling, leading to amazing house parties AFTER the election.
6. Yahoo tanked–and we all watched–and commented, in real time.
Were you wondering if I’d get to this one? Who could omit mentioning the bipolar relationship between Yahoo, Microsoft and all the press people everyone kept leaking to as layoffs led to offers led to rejected led to layoffs, all accompanied by the steady downward creep of the stock price. Even better, Kara Swisher’s commentary proved that bull(shit)-baiting was still a worthy sport.
7. The new tech kids kicked the old kids-and the old kids kicked back
This was the year some fresh new voices came into the Web 2.0 bell jar, in some cases fitting right in, in others, blowing it open. Steve Hodson, Sarah Perez and Corvida all had smart things to say and parlayed their smarts into paying blogging gigs with bigger sites; Louis Gray emerged from the suburbs with a passion and verve that made others compare his blog to Robert Scoble’s. Mike Arrington picked up Steve Gillmor and made him an honest man (and IT blogger); Anne Zelenka moved on to teach math (sigh). New (to me) voices that made me keep reading included Oril Yakuel, Dave “digidave” Cohn, and my friend Patricia Handschiegel.
8. Macs Attacked.
Between February and September 2008, I bought 2 Apple computers and 3 iPods. In 2007, I bought one meensy little shuffle. Multiply me by 44 million people and you can understand how Apple blew up into one of the consumer brand companies that no one could get enough of.
streaming became real.
First of all, the tools to put it all out there matured. Suddenly it became possible to put yourself out there on Facebook, friendfeed, seesmic, viddler, vimeo, 12 seconds, and www.ustream.tv and build a picture of your life that could turn you into a mega brand. For some folks, this worked out really well (viz Chris Brogan, 26,639 twitter followers); for others, it led to (much) ridicule (viz Julia Allison, nonsociety).
10. A million flowers bloomed-social media, publishing, SaS tools transformed small businesses.
Blogging, lifestreaming, ecommerce and community are a trifecta plus one that is powering all sorts of successful, moderately successful and ultimately unsuccessful enterprises. From Mommybloggers selling ads, to crafters blogging about their etsy shops to would-be prophets of cool hawking the latest organic local jam to urban homesteaders selling worm-bin designs and red worms by the pound to their neighbors, there has been a rise in individual entrepreneurship the web continues to power.
What’s ahead in 2009? Lots more small businesses and entrepreneurs, increased emphasis on community and surprising new investments.