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Two Things [Jun. 20th, 2006|07:01 pm]
One of my electrical outlets just quit working. It isn't the circuit that's at fault, because everything else in the room still works. The outlet that went dead is the one with the audio equipment plugged into it, plus one lamp, and (gasp) Sluggo. Sluggo hasn't been fired up in a couple of months, and wouldn't work in this heat anyway, and I don't need that particular lamp (even though I prefer it for certain tasks), but I use the audio equipment every night.

I don't think we can afford to get the wiring fixed right now. It would involve a huge task, in any case- moving tons of crap out of the way, probably aggravating my wonky vertebrae in the process. Rats! First my neck starts falling apart, then the house. What next? And speaking of rats, I wonder if a rat chewed through a wire? I'm just hoping there isn't something hanging loose inside the wall that's going to start a fire. Also, I hope the outlet with this computer plugged into it doesn't fail. I'm in no shape for undertaking any sort of major project.

Future's So Bleak I Gotta Wear Schadenfreudes

Thousands of users have signed the 2006 Petition Against Changes in the LiveJournal Interface (oh, it needs proofreading so badly!) Apparently, the recent plans by lj_design have not been popular. I'm wondering how popular 6A's new Vox platform is going to be? As far as I know, nothing owned by 6A except LJ has ever yet operated in the black. Nevertheless, they are launching a new service which will compete directly with LJ- friends pages are called "neighborhoods" and the look is different (a bit cheesier, to my eye), but it's essentially a slightly different version of LJ. I think I'm getting a whiff of sulphur off of the pages.

There are lot of discussions (this one at permmembers, for example) about 6A's reasons for launching Vox- mostly having to do with a presumed desire on the company's part to shift older users over to the new service and turn LJ into a kiddie playground like MySpace, but something is being overlooked in most of the discussions I've seen. LJ code is (or much of it is- most of that portion of it which was developed up until the time 6A took over) open source. Vox code is proprietary. If improvements to LJ are throttled back, and the work that would have gone into improving LJ goes instead into improving the proprietary code of Vox, then 6A gains in value.

I suspect that this is the real motivation behind Vox. The venture capitalists to which 6A is beholden don't want their money going to anything open source, so the company is taking the gamble that they'll be able to replicate LJ's earlier success with a near-clone that is based entirely on proprietary software. This could turn out to be a flabbergastingly stupid business decision- or it might actually work. After all, a monkey did once fly out of somebody's butt, didn't it?

Personally, I now wouldn't be surprised to see the whole company crash and burn. This launch is going to be costly. LJ is no longer growing rapidly, but it has a vastly increased paid staff, so it's no longer the cash cow it once was. 6A could burn through their venture capital pretty fast. More might be forthcoming, but how much more influence will the VC firms gain over the company if that happens? What would that mean for LJ? I doubt that anybody at 6A would be able to answer these questions, even if they wanted to. I think they're making it up as they go along. Desperation and sulphur smell a lot alike sometimes.

[User Picture]From: whiteboyhalf
2006-06-21 09:31 am (UTC)
egads! make LJ like myspace?
i hate myspace. myspace whores.

i didn't think they could make money off of live journal at all. But then, why else would they do it?

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[User Picture]From: flying_blind
2006-06-21 02:09 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, LJ is one of the few social networking sites I know of that has ever run a profit. The guys who started Blogger and MySpace and hordes of other such sites made their money by selling the sites to fat companies with lots of cash and little judgement. I don't know of any of them that were turning a profit at the time they were sold (usually for far too much money.)

The whole Internet has pretty much run on venture capital for years now, but LJ, with its very small paid staff and large number of volunteers, which gave it surprisingly low overhead costs, went into the black within a couple of years of starting, and stayed there until it was bought by 6A. I think it could have gone on paying its way indefinitely, had Brad not wanted to bail out of the management end of the operation.

You can read a bit of interesting background on LJ in this post by insomnia, who's been around since near the beginning.
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