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About Podango’s Demise And The Smart Podcaster’s Response

One of my predictions for 2008 (made exactly one year ago today) was that “One major podcast network goes down in flames.” This is one of those predictions you hate to make, but must make, because it’s coming anyway and you need to plan for it.

I don’t like making these kinds of predictions but, other predictions like these include “my head will have less hair this year than last” or, … “my first gen iPhone will be the last phone I ever need.” No matter how much you want some things not to happen …

If you haven’t heard by now, Podango is having serious problems. From a note from Doug:

Our ability to continue operations past the end of this year (2008) is in question.

I’d link to show you that quote but, … the server is currently showing a 503 error. Here’s some commentary from Michael Geoghegan and a bit from Podcasting News as well.

Doug and Lee were two of the nicest guys in this space. However, … the model was flawed (and they aren’t the only one with this model, they’re just the first ones to crash).

If you are a Podcaster on Podango (or any other site that has their domain name (not yours)), now is the time to own the very media you’ve worked so hard to create. If you use any other service (Feedburner, Amazon S3, Libsyn, etc.) map YOUR DOMAIN to THEIR SERVICE. Domains are currently $7.47 a year at this GoDaddy reseller – you have no excuse. This way if someone goes down (and they always go down), you can fix everything with the quick repoint of your domain name.

Don’t just BE THE MEDIA … OWN THE MEDIA. Handing your content over to someone with a seriously flawed business model (and you know my feelings about Podcast Networks) with no plan of escape is as lame as launching a business with a seriously flawed business model and promising a world that you can’t deliver.

If you are wondering what this means to the state of Podcasting, I point you to this Tweet:

Podango’s problems say as little about the future of Podcasting as GM’s problems say about the future of cars.

The news is full of stories of crooked companies and business models that simply can’t exist anymore (bail-out, anyone?) that are blaming their epic falls on “the economy.” If the news was full of economics 101 stories deconstructing how bad business models often result in bad businesses that FAIL, we couldn’t have 24 hours news networks.

But we’re new media …

We’re smarter than that, right?

Right?

On Podcast Networks, Blog Worlds, And “Business”

Before I shut down for the holidays, there are two issues that deserve further commentary: my statement that “the only [Podcast] ‘network’ that matters is Revision3” and my “concerns” re the merger of the “New Media Expos.” I’ll hit both of these issues here.

Re “Podcast Networks Not Mattering,” let me try that one again.

When I say “not mattering” I mean, plain and simple, the only Network that carries any cache with it is Revision3. When Rev3 launches a new show, I will take a look because it comes from Rev3 – I know it will be quality and I know it will have the potential to be viable in the marketplace. When Blubrry, Mevio, TPN, Podango, Libsyn, et all launch a new show, that which gets me to consume will be the topic or players involved, not the network source.

Statements like a network “not being afraid of Podcasting” is so far from the point that I can only assume I haven’t made myself clear. The provision of adverting buys and hosting technologies are extremely important for this industry but they remain a commodity that can be swapped at a moment’s notice were someone to fail. Some players in this space are doing a bang-up job, but they are still a commodity.

For the record, my own Premiumcast.com falls into that same category.

In addition, the desire of some (but not all) networks to lock content distribution options in the name of tracking proves that the rules aren’t entirely written yet.

Simply said – the content matters, the means whereby which the content is delivered, does not.

Re “Blog World Expo concerns,” I spent an hour on the phone with Rick Calvert of BlogWorld Expo and now have something to report. His explanations for the issues I raised were answered and the answers were acceptable to me at least. Going into the muck and mire of the past is pointless at this point so I’ll comment on issues only viable this month.

Re my video of their Blog RSS problems, the answer was that the news launched before the site was “ready.” I’ve been in those shoes before. The site is fixed and running fine and has been since late in the day when I pointed these issues out.

Re attending the event, I’m still planning on doing so and, as per my previous post, still don’t know in what capacity. It was Rick’s statement that he’d like to do business accordingly, and I echo the same. The question is, (and now this becomes a business issue) can we come to terms that make sense?

The thing that did definitely become apparent to me was that not only is Rick in the business of producing the Blog World Expo, but he is also attempting to make this show very much about the business of Blogging and New Media. That approach and angle I support COMPLETELY.

Tim attempted the same with Podcast Expo but the audience seemed to want the more “unexpo” event more typical to PodCamps and the like. Different strokes for different folks, but the business side of this is, at least, why I do this for my day job.

It is also what excites me about Rick’s event.

I’ll be there in October and hope you will be too. I promise that if I come on as a speaker or in some other capacity (booth, partner, etc.), I’ll let you know here.

I appreciate your comments below on either topic.

The 12/07 Podango Downtime Can Have An Upside If They Do This Right

Let me start by saying that I’ve been a big fan of Podango since day 1. I’ve liked their people and their model. I keynoted their first “Unconference.” I launched the “Internet Marketing Podcast Network” with them and have blogged about them numerous times. Even had Lee Gibbons on both the Electronic Marketing Interviews show and on New Media Matters.

I went really loopy when they bought Gigavox from Podango. I was like two friends getting married. That system is the bedrock of all of my audio Podcasts right now.

Well, around New Years Eve, the honeymoon was over. I tried to publish something before the old year was over and the Gigavox / Podango publishing system was down. A little research in some forums shown it had been down for awhile.

Note: Not all of Podango, this was just an issue with the Showbuilder Lite system (the part I use).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand holiday breaks and the like but … there was no way to contact anyone (minus the old rolodex) and I tried everything I could.

It remained down.

For at least a week.

I told Lee (sometimes with all caps ;-)) and the gang that this was unacceptable (they agreed) and that we needed to move from a “sorry we were down” to a “when we go down next time here is how things will change” kind of approach. In this space, things go down, the issue is what we do about it and be pro-active instead of re-active.

I bullied them into getting me a downtime document by Friday the 4th with the promise that I would Blog accordingly and explain what I thought of the document or that the document never arrived.

The document arrived. On time.

It wasn’t perfect. Really, it wasn’t even ‘close.’

I suggested a few things.

They agreed. They edited. We’re in ‘close’ mode now.

And here is what they offered me. Here’s what they offered the community.

1 – I asked for an off-site area to post downtime issues, etc. Here was the email response

Yes, Paul. You may post that we will have it. InsidePodango.com is the domain. It will be set up and functional by Monday close of business.

We will use this domain for technology focused updates, including:
– System Status Notifications
– System Update Notifications
– Known Issues and Resolution Targets
– A Podango BBS
– Access to the Podango Learning Center
– RSS feeds for posts related to specific categories of info: system status notifications, produce news, al posts…
– Etc.

Clearly, not all of these things will be available on Monday, but
this is where we want to take it.

The site is live. Step 1.

2 – This note was sent on the 8th. They could have hid and “hoped” most people didn’t notice the downtime but they sent this:

Dear Podango Show Builder Lite user,
As you may be aware, Podango Show Builder Lite (formerly Gigavox Audio Lite) has been experiencing some technical difficulties in a couple of key areas. The main problem has been with uploading, but we have received reports of problems with assembly in some isolated instances as well.

First, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies for the inconvenience and trouble that this may have caused you. The road to transition has been a little rockier than we would have liked or initially anticipated. We are working diligently on the transition and hope to be fully transitioned soon.

Secondly, we believe the issues surrounding uploading have been resolved. If you continue to experience problems uploading–or any other issues, please let us know by way of the method described below.

Thirdly, I want to let you know how to best help us help you when issues arise. To get support, please email psbl-support@podango.com and give us your name, Podango Show Builder Lite username (we don’t need your password), and a description of the issue you’re seeing with as much detail as possible. Someone will respond to your issue shortly to let you know that we’ve received your message and will help resolve the issue. To make sure that we are timely in our response and aware of all new issues, in addition to us receiving your message via email, our email system will also send us a message to our support pagers, so that we will instantly be alerted that there is an issue that needs resolution.

In closing, We appreciate your patience and participation as we move to make this great service even better. We value your contribution to the podcasting community at large, and welcome your feedback on how to make our service even better.

In great cause together,

JT Zemp
CTO – Podango

That was the right thing to do. You’ll notice they gave an email address contact that goes to pagers, not an inbox that nobody checks.

And I support the transparency 100%. Step 2.

3 – Lee and I had dinner at CES. We’re going to continue this dialog and document.

So, as I said in the title to this posting, the downtime can be good for them if they do this right. Allowing me to air a little of their dirty laundry in an attempt to prove they’ve changed soaps is a bold move and I salute them for it.

In a few months I’ll salute either their success in making this happen or … let you know where I’m moving to.

I really hope it’s “Option A.”

My gut tells me it will be, but time will tell the true story.

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Odeo Buys Fireant … More Acquisitions To Come?

As reported in TechCrunch, Odeo (formally Sonic Mountain) bought Fireant.

Podcast hosting and directory platform buys Podcatcher software.

I’m sure this is just the start of the acquisitions we’ll see leading up to Podcast Expo.

Thoughts / rumors you’d like to share?

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Pickle’s Review For Riches Contest

I’ve written in the past of Podcast Pickle. Despite the name, they are, every day, becoming more and more of a powerhouse in this space.

They have a new program that intrigued me called “Reviews For Riches” that is offering a cash prize each week for reviews in the Podcast Pickle system. You can read more about it here.

Podcasts you might want to consider reviewing include Marketing Online Live, Podcast Tools Weekly Update and Profitable Podcasting.

I think this is something we can put a value on. The number I’ve very curious about is the number of additional reviews week 1 versus the week before that his $100 purchased. I wonder if Gary will share that with us.

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More Fun (And Truth) With Stats

When I wrote the post on Wednesday about Podcast Pickle, I really was just setting out to write a piece about how their impact and positioning has really surprised me. In a world where Odeo (check my archives – I’ve been a huge fan) is up for sale, everything just seems fascinating right now.

I hopped over to Alexa to get some perspective. I compared them to Podshow (again for perspective) and what do you know, they “appeared” to beat them that day. I figured I’d mention it – with a live link to Alexa. I’ll post that chart again:

Notice anything? Yeah, it looked like Alexa had a hiccup that day.

But boy did it start something.

They started chatting about it at “the Pickle.”

We got Dugg.

Adam Curry made a few comments that got a lot of the anti-Curry types to respond in force.

And then, guess what …

As you can tell from the chart, Alexa changed their results and now there is no “beating” of Podshow by Pickle.

Both Curry and the Podcast Brothers (2/23/2007) (now there’s a match-up) made comment on the changes before I got a chance to post the update.

Always fascinating.

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Getting Pickled

UPDATE: Turns out I was right. Details here.

UPDATE: Additional comments on the numbers (by me) here.

I couldn’t get past the name.

And I’m still not sure if she is “my audience.”

But you have to admire the “Pickle.”

Podcast Pickle that is.

Time Magazine rated the Pickle one of the top “50 Coolest Websites” of 2006.

They passed Podshow.com in reach yesterday. Here are the stats live from Alexa:

(it’s a live update so people reading this as archive will see the records for whatever day they are reading this on (those reading this by rss, it’s javascript – so you might have to click on over)):

That’s right, the solo “Pickle” game is beating 15 million in venture capital for reach.

You can’t ignore the pickle (or her numbers at least).

Now, I’ll say this right out – a good chunk of the audience are Podcasters. But then again, so are the audiences of any Podcast network or directory right now.

And, heck, even if the Pickle were the only one with a majority of Podcasters in her audience, she still has a bigger audience than most of the players out there.

Pickle me impressed.

Thoughts?

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