My old friend Andrew Sullivan—25 years ago (yikes) we were housemates in Washington—is taking his popular blog from the Atlantic to the Daily Beast/Newsweek.
…There are some opportunities you just can’t let pass by. The chance to be part of a whole new experiment in online and print journalism, in the Daily Beast and Newsweek adventure, is just too fascinating and exciting a challenge to pass up. And to work with media legends, Barry Diller and Tina Brown, and with the extraordinary businessmen Sidney Harman and Stephen Colvin, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Barry was the person w . ho first introduced me to the Internet in the early 1990s, and we have remained friends ever since. Tina Brown needs no introduction, but to see her in action as we have discussed this new adventure over the past few weeks has been quite a revelation. The Daily Beast, in a mere two years, has made its mark on the web, with 6 million unique visitors last month…
Translation: Tina Brown is spending like the old days!
Because with all due respect to Andrew, I very much doubt that the chance to join the Newsweek/Beast venture is really “the opportunity of a lifetime.” For a guy known for his candor in blogging, the statement above doesn’t feel honest. It feels like a well-written but sort of shamelessly sycophantic press release.
After all, the Daily Beast (a name rivaled in its awfulness only by that of Liam Gallagher’s new band) may have made its mark on the web, but it’s a very faint, very money-losing one. If DB stopped publishing tomorrow, would anyone miss it beyond those who cash Barry Diller’s checks?
No, the kind of sycophancy embedded in Andrew’s statement above comes from just having signed a very lucrative deal, one in which you think, I can’t believe they’re paying me that much…..
I wonder to what extent this move was influenced by the AOL-HuffPo deal. After all, if HuffPo was worth $315 million, Andrew’s site could reasonably be valued at some fraction of that—$1 million? $2 million?—and perhaps the Atlantic just didn’t want to pay that to keep him. But if he brings all his readers to whatever website Tina creates…maybe it’s win-win until the money runs out?
Andrew is an extremely talented guy and any venture he joins is more likely to succeed as a result, but this move makes me raise an eyebrow. Are we entering another Internet bubble?