Whoah, it’s crazy how much can change in 48 hours.
In the grand scheme of weeks, this one has been closer to the difficult side. It’s been extremely bad, and at the same time humbling and inspiring. In case you missed the news, on Friday we announced that after six and a half years, we would be shutting down Metblogs at the end of this month. It’s abrupt and unexpected even for us. Jason DeFillippo, my friend and business partner throughout all of this, wrote a personal and touching post about how it all started, and posted some closing stats to wrap it all up with a bow. In that time the network has had over a thousand writers, created more than 100,000 posts, and generated nearly 320,000 comments. Even I was impressed by that.
I wanted to write something about it myself. I wanted to explain how I felt and how hard of a decision that was to make but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Every time I started writing I’d just get a page full of emo crap that wasn’t much more than me wallowing and feeling bad about myself. I couldn’t help it. I was heartbroken. I never in all this time thought there would ever be a situation when we were forced to turn off the lights and walk away, but there we were standing in the middle of it. To think of everything that had gone into this, and to think of it just disappearing was crushing. I stopped trying to write and just let whatever was going to happen happen.
I said this was a surprising thing for us and I meant that. For it’s entire existence Metblogs has pretty much taken care of itself. It’s never been the biggest thing in the world but it wasn’t losing money and we felt that the social impacts and benefits it had were certainly worth that alone. We were also lucky to know a few people who supported what we were doing and chipped in some cash to help make it better. Michael Baffico, Larry Busacca, Michael Goff, Jody Mulkey and Sean Suhl believed in us enough early on to help us out with some of the bigger growth costs and we will forever be in their debt. And as Jason mentioned having Joi Ito and Xeni Jardin as our consiliari of sorts has been invaluable.
In 2009 the ad market took a serious nosedive industry wide (I’ve written about that here) but luckily we had some reserves to get us through the rough patches. And even in the darkest hour we never considered shutting things down. At worst it was more like “crap, ok we’ll let our phones get turned off for the month or something” and things would bounce back. But 2009 was exceptionally rough and we didn’t bounce back as quickly as we needed it to.
In January of 2010 we made a post asking for help – we wanted the sites to stay online and to grow and knew that what we were doing wasn’t cutting it anymore and there had to be someone or someone’s out there who could take the steps we couldn’t. We spent the next few months talking to many people and finally settling on a deal that we thought would be perfect. And it was. Until it wasn’t. Which was the beginning of last week. We were suddenly faced with the cold hard reality that putting all of our eggs in one basket was a very, very bad idea. We spent 24 hour or so running around our respective rooms in a panic before realizing we didn’t really have any other options. And that’s when we notified people that this was likely the end.
I want to say that sitting alone in your own house watching something you’ve spent the better part of the last decade crumble in front of you is no fun. It’s pretty easy to think you are the only one who cares about it, and that if it all went away tomorrow no one would
notice. Or if they did they’d just feel let down. It’s pretty defeating honestly. And I know that is exactly the whiney emo crap I was trying to avoid, but that’s pretty much the headspace we were in towards the end of last week. So we accepted our fate, and made our post. Clicking ‘publish’ was the lowest I’d been in years. And I didn’t even have the guts to do it, I made Jason do it.
And that is when the unexpected happened. People started popping up like goddamn ninjas out of nowhere to tell us how important they thought Metblogs was and how they couldn’t let it die. Several people offered their own cash to help keep things alive. Several groups stepped forward and offered to take some of the weight off our shoulders to help keep things alive. We honestly never expected that to happen, and we’re blown away by the kind things people had to say about it. We’ve spent the weekend talking to people, running numbers and getting hopeful. On Friday everything seemed dark and impossible, today everything looks like it will work out.
Our number one goal in all of this is to allow the sites to live on, and ensure the efforts of the last six and a half years don’t disappear. After what has happened this weekend I think we can safely say that that won’t be a problem. While things are moving super quickly, they aren’t moving quickly enough that I can say anything specific but I’m really excited about the prospects. Because these prospects require cash, and because people keep offering it, we’ve set up this pledgie to make it easier to donate. I want to take a moment and thank everyone from the very bottom of my heart for all the kind words of support and stories about how much Metblogs has meant to them. It’s been flattering and humbling to have been even the smallest part of something that people feel has had such an impact on their lives, but all credit, all of it, should be going to the authors on the sites. While Jason and I had a small part in getting this train in motion, it’s the authors that are at it’s core and are it’s lifesblood. I can’t stress how grateful I am to each and every person who ever contributed to any of the sites.
With that I’m going to end this post, and hope to have another with even better news in the very near future. Thanks again everyone.