08.25.11

Bleacher Report : An Unreadable Commercial Juggernaut Nearly 100 Times More Effective At Raising Money Than The Classical

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 5:37 pm by

(Bleacher Report CEO Brian Grey, having a laugh at any suggestion he divide $22 million by 7000)

Earlier this week, Bleacher Report announced a series of new hires straight-from-the-blogosphere, amongst them, Free Darko’s Bethlehelm Shoals.  That an organization like B/R would covet Shoals’ talents and reputation is not hard to understand, but coming so quickly on the heels of Shoals’ widely promoted involvement in the writer-owned The Classical, the timing could best be called unfortunate.  Shoals’ weirdly defensive introductory offering (“I simply don’t understand how an extremely smart company making a commitment to the quality of its content is a bad thing…I suppose we can choose to waste a resource like Bleacher Report to prove a point, hammer home a grudge, or enforce conventional wisdom,”) is striking in at least two ways ; B/R’s reliance on unpaid writers is actually defended (“they could do far worse than to start out at a place that can guarantee them eyeballs”) yet there’s not one mention of the independent, content creator-owned website to which Shoals has been linked.

If indeed, there’s anything to be learned from the geniuses at Bleacher Report, as Shoals has claimed, it might have more to do with the success employment of an exploitative business model, as Adweek’s Emma Bazilian reports the site has raised another $22 million with Oak Investment Partners and prior investors.  And you thought The Classical’s $50K goal was lofty!

“Sports is a big opportunity and no one has gotten it right yet,” Harman said. “I’d argue Bleacher Report has done a far better job of embracing the capabilities of the online medium than the big sports name brands have.”

The site wasn’t planning on raising money for another six months, said Grey, but it was expanding so rapidly—year-over-year page views are up 150 percent, time on site is up 50 percent, and unique visits are up 75 percent—that they decided to pull the trigger ahead of schedule.

The investment will go towards building the company, according to TechCrunch. Some of the money will go towards expanding the site’s sales team, hiring some of its unpaid contributors, and reinvesting in the technology of the platform.

6 Responses to “Bleacher Report : An Unreadable Commercial Juggernaut Nearly 100 Times More Effective At Raising Money Than The Classical”

  1. Okay, I don’t get it. Guy wants to go into business for himself. Oddly, this desire fails to make everything free forever for guy. Guy takes day job. Guy says the right things about his day job (and presumably had to hammer out some “no working on/promoting your shit on our time” agreements). And no, I’m not talking about Shoals, I’m talking about how I wanted to open up a bar but was broke, so I took a job at Hooters for a couple years.

    Bleacher Report sucks: I get it. But maybe my day job sucks, too. Maybe Noam Chomsky’s main linguistics research was funded by the Air Force. Lots of us take money from places we don’t love to fund activities we prefer. Hell, my basic thought on jobs is that if I didn’t hate them, I wouldn’t insist on being paid to do ‘em.

    (Full disclosure: I haven’t talked to anybody associated w/ the Classical since its announcement, though I do think of a couple of them as comrades & compatriots.)

  2. GC says:

    We can agree on one thing for certain. You don’t get it.

    That Shoals or anyone else needs to get paid isn’t bad, noteworthy or controversial. But there’s a massive contradiction in asking the public to support an independent, writer-owned website devoted to original/creative thought and less than a month later having your name, likeness and reputation used to promote another site that a) pays a handful of writers out of 7000, b) actively discourages original thought. It’s a matter of aiding and abetting the very thing some portion of The Classical’s financial bakers might’ve mistakenly been led to believe they were taking a stand against.

    Unless of course, The Classical is merely supposed to be Grantland with Mark E. Smith references instead of Shawshank. That would be a pretty cynical forecast.

    Thus far, none of B/R’s new hires have gone so far as to say “we’re only doing this for the money — we know B/R blows”. At least not publicly.

    (Full disclosure : the more I hear about B/R from people who’ve actually had real contact with them, the less this feels like a matter of aesthetic differences and the more it feels like I’ve been easy on them).

  3. GC says:

    “Guy says the right things about his day job (and presumably had to hammer out some ‘no working on/promoting your shit on our time’ agreements)”

    That would sort of make sense if this were a full time position. But The Classical fundraising continues and just yesterday Shoals was on the TBJ podcast speaking with great enthusiasm about the site’s prospects. So he’s clearly not being prevented from working on The Classical or promoting The Classical. That B/R might not look kindly upon their site being used as a vehicle to promote another is not unusual or unfair, but they weren’t shy at all about mentioning all of the projects, big and small, the 5 new hires had been involved in. Would intentionally omitting The Classical be standard practice for a huge, jerky company? Absolutely. And all the more reason why that big jerky company deserves scorn more than the benefit of the doubt.

  4. David Roth says:

    “Unless of course, The Classical is merely supposed to be Grantland with Mark E. Smith references instead of Shawshank. That would be a pretty cynical forecast.”

    It really would be a very cynical forecast indeed.

  5. I’m not giving the big jerky company the benefit of the doubt at *all*. I’m giving Shoals (and Roth, and the rest of the Classical roster) the benefit of the doubt while accepting that they might (a) get their dough where they can, (b) maybe do some decent work in places sorely lacking in same…

    If we’re having an aesthetic difference, I understand your stridency; I thought we were having an ethical difference, and at this point I just don’t see that the sins at hand merit the treatment they’re getting. I mean, Damian goes on Fox News: I guess it’s okay because he doesn’t have a Kickstarter about not lying constantly to make money?

  6. GC says:

    to reiterate, I have no issue with The Classical’s fundraising efforts and in no way believe I or anyone else should police how the site’s contributors earn a living. But it is totally newsworthy — if not downright contradictory — that at the same time The Classical’s well-received pitch touts a creator-owned site chock full of wit and idiosyncrasy, one of their most recognizable founders has become a front page fixture at B/R — a site with a reputation for being anything BUT witty or idiosyncratic, And there’s the not so small matter of the 6995 schlubs who aren’t being paid to write.

    I’ve not called anyone a sinner and I don’t believe my treatment of B/R has been anything but fair. If I’ve mischaracterized the site in some fashion, by all means, please let me know how. Shoals owes me no explanation or excuse — he’s a free man in a (mostly) free world and whether the money goes to pay for baby shoes or blow is of no consequence to me. It’s B/R that I have a problem with.

    “I mean, Damian goes on Fox News: I guess it’s okay because he doesn’t have a Kickstarter about not lying constantly to make money?”

    OK, first of all, Damian’s decision to appear on “Red Eye” was his. Not mine. But just for the sake of argument, if he was the poster boy for a Current TV ad campaign and yet simultaneously was being widely promoted as the new face of Fox News (see ya, Hannity!), yeah, I agree, that would be pretty fucking weird. It would also be weird, if for instance, they were paying him to appear on “Red Eye” and telling other commentators they were part of a 7000-person apprenticeship.

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