Much anxiety yesterday when it was announced that the company which owns popular blog/social network LiveJournal had laid off much of its staff. The fact that the company is owned by a mysterious Russian firm could only add images of sinister, Boris the Babysitter-like figures and greater anxiety. While the number of layoffs was not as dire as first reported, it still highlighted the continuing problem of making money off the Internet:
LJ’s failure should serve as a warning to Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, and other free social-networking and user-gen sites. Livejournal has (had?) an addictive social experience that its millions of users spent hours on every day, but the site could never figure out how to transform that into a sustainable business.
A variety of revenue-generating ideas like 99 cent “virtual gifts” and freemium add-ons never panned out, (these ideas are still being talked about as working models for other sites). Without a clear business plan, Livejournal stumbled on until its owners finally decided to cut the cord.
As news of the cutbacks spread, thousands of people who committed their sensitive thoughts to the platform over the years raced to download and back up — The Beat included! LJ syndicates a lot of popular webcomics, including Kate Beaton, ACT-I-VATE and so on, so its shaky situation is of more than passing interest to the comics community, and not just because so many comics types have blogs there.