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Size matters not: Gigaom blog folds fast

Press-reportersNews surfaced this morning about the landmark tech blog Gigaom. The New York Times reports that the massive operation switched off its news reporting in a rush sometime yesterday. The halt of news and postings was as swift as the one Interex experienced almost 10 years ago. Like the user group's demise, unpaid bills were Gigaom's undoing.

Gigaom was big enough to produce conferences. It also offered a white-paper research business. And like the NewsWire, it sold advertising. None of that was enough to keep away Gigaom's creditors. In an echo of what happened at the 3000's final user group that focused on the server, big was no protection against borrowing.

The Times story quoted the site's founder Om Malik in a confirmation statement. "Gigaom is winding down and its assets are now controlled by the company’s lenders,” he said. “It is not how you want the story of a company you founded to end."

One commenter asked, "What does this mean for upcoming events like GigaOM Structure Data next week?" Indeed, like the Interex meltdown, GigaOm has many commitments to keep and by now the lenders are taking control of operations. The scope of failure is similar to the HP World show that never opened in August, 2005. More than $300,000 in tickets were sold to this month's GigaOM conference. There's no word on refunds. For the moment there's no announcement of bankruptcy, though.

All-digital was the only platform GigaOM ever used to spread information. One comment suggested that tech journalists are writers who couldn't make it elsewhere in publishing. That's too broad a brush considering the number of online tech writers. But it's easy to fill a digital outpost with opinions and little news.

The caliber of content is important. So is a manageable mission. Being small and profitable has been the watchword for nearly all of the 3000 vendors and companies since I got here, more than 30 years ago. All of us have been managing risk in what's clearly a contracting market. Gigaom's shutdown is the sort of outcome an IT manager might experience if an app vendor went dark overnight.

Unlike Interex, the Gigaom site remains online today, filling up with comments from its loyal readers. Some are dancing on the blog's grave. Gigaom opened for business a year after we started the NewsWire's blog. The changes in the Web publishing model have been profound -- and that's in a marketplace with new technology and systems rollouts.

About a year ago, the blog's founder Om Malik announced he'd reeled in a fresh $8 million of funding for his operations. He also joined the venture fund investment company, "and so I'm hanging up my reporter's notebook." It's an interesting image, that hanging up of a notebook. We don't wear hats any longer in the press like reporters did in the Fifties. But really, you file away notebooks, and the research and learning that started in notebooks at GigaOM will remain online for awhile. That's one advantage of being all-digital: what you provide is a legacy that needs little more than a hard drive and a Web address to survive.

Anyone who writes news for a living might see the fatigue in Om's notebook-hanging of one year ago.

Living a 24-hour news life has come at a personal cost. I still wake in middle of the night to check the stream to see if something is breaking, worrying whether I missed some news. It is a unique type of addiction that only a few can understand, and it is time for me to opt out of this non-stop news life.

Malik had a lot in orbit, so the crash will sound large. Smaller blog ventures will create more stories starting today. Yoda's line from the Empire Strikes Back rings out at me this morning. "Size matters not," he told Luke. "Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not. For my ally is The Force." We can all feel The Force when we feel small -- in markets, in futures, in whatever we would like to dream.