(No Lie) Guy Kawasaki Sells Truemors To NowPublic - InformationWeek

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7/10/2008
06:38 PM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
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(No Lie) Guy Kawasaki Sells Truemors To NowPublic

It's a mashup of two Web 2.0 companies with similar goals (user-generated content), so how will they complement each other? That depends on how you use it.

It's a mashup of two Web 2.0 companies with similar goals (user-generated content), so how will they complement each other? That depends on how you use it.Former Apple Fellow and evangelist (you have to include that as his title, it's in his contract) Guy Kawasaki this week sold off his rumor-mill site Truemors to NowPublic for an undisclosed sum. According to TechCrunch, Kawasaki developed, built, and registered Truemors for around $12,000, which means the sale is more than likely a winning proposition for him.

NowPublic is a citizen journalist site that lets average people file news items, photos, or video for people to see. Founded by Michael Tippett, Leonard Brody, and Michael Meyers in 2005, the site reportedly covers more than 5,500 cities and 160 countries and boasts great reviews from The Guardian and Time magazine, which named it one of the Top 50 Web sites for 2007.

Similar to the structure of the Holy Roman Empire, Truemors will be able keep its editorial staff and maintain its Web site as long as it pays tithing to NowPublic. Kawasaki also gets to keep his hand on the pulse of Truemors as chair of the Advisory Board for NowPublic.

"Truemors believes in the democratization of information -- access for everyone to everything -- as well as demonstrative technology -- products that enable the open exhibition and expression of information, emotions, and opinions," Kawasaki said in a statement. "NowPublic is the ideal organization to carry the Truemors torch, as it has long held these same beliefs and seen enormous success."

However, success is sometimes fleeting and hard to grasp. My feeling is that when a Web 2.0 company starts buying another Web 2.0 company, it's time to take a look at the market's health.

Considering the buy-vs.-build model has been working with startup companies of late, a marriage of NowPublic and Truemors makes sense. NowPublic closed a $10.6 million round of financing from Rho Ventures, Rho Canada, Brightspark, GrowthWorks, and members of the New York Angels after reports of multiple takeover offers. Truemors is part of the Nononina empire, of which Kawasaki is a founder. Kawasaki also is something of a startup expert between his book and Garage Technology Ventures.

Still, the acquisition is a little questionable. NowPublic's mantra is that something happens, some lucky stiff decides to videotape it or write it down, and post it to the Web. NowPublic's cutesy art shows the Leaning Tower of Pisa falling over onto a crowd, a UFO descending on the city, or a dinosaur chasing people, all of which are scary and I hope never happen.

The business model focuses on user-generated content, but NowPublic also has a content-sharing agreement with The Associated Press, which has high monthly fees attached to it.

Nononina and Truemors are hoping to align their reputations to Fark, Twitter, BoredAt, Digg, PostSecret, PopSugar, and HotOrNot. Now, all of these are great user-based content sites; however, many of them feed off copyrighted content (see current YouTube-Viacom spat for why this is not always a good idea).

Ultimately the "citizen journalist/editor" perspective and the ability to "tell the world" helps uncover things that mainstream media can't or won't focus on, but as a business model, NowPublic will need to prove some type of long-term financial strategy or find itself an asterisk on the great Web 2.0 crunch in the future (read Pets.com).

What's your take on user-generated content? Do you trust sites like these? Feel free to e-mail me or post your thoughts below.

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