Read of the Day: “How Not to Launch a Site for Women: An Open Letter to Bustle.com Founder, Bryan Goldberg”
5:52 pm, August 14th | by Colette McIntyre
Yesterday BleacherReport.com founder Bryan Goldberg announced the launch of a new women’s site called Bustle.com and managed to irk just about all of the world’s estimated 3,523,843,881 women in the process. In her pen letter on Flavorwire, Elizabeth Spiers identifies Goldberg’s numerous transgressions and sums them up as a illuminating tutorial in how not to launch a site for women.
The announcement was made on PandoDaily(a site I like to think of as PanderDaily, given its seeming determination to be a mouthpiece for industry rather than a news organization that covers industry), and Goldberg’s announcement/press release began with the dubious assertion — now “edited” after much criticism — that there were no major companies going after the women’s market.
He also asserted that he had stumbled upon the heretofore undiscovered fact women have multiple interests, many of which go well beyond 325 Cute Sundresses for Spring! and How to Properly Blow Your Boyfriend So He Won’t Dump You! Apparently they appreciate things like politics and business, too, and no one understands this. No one has tried to make a publication that targets women and covers things that go beyond endless sundresses and blow job how-tos. Sure, there are some “niche” sites. (Niche being online audiences twice the size of Vogue’s print circulation.) Jezebel, the Hairpin, Rookie, etc. — sites that go beyond the narrow scope of traditional women’s magazines. But they’re not going big, and that’s where Bustle comes in. Bustle is gonna be BIG.
Both assertions are, of course, ridiculous. Most general interest sites have a heavy female component, and there are plenty of women’s interest sites that explicitly target women. (The announcement caught my attention in part because it described Gawker.com as a site for men, which, as founding editor of Gawker.com, was news to me.) And while the scope of traditional women’s magazine’s remains fairly narrow, the new players talk about a wide range of issues, many of them general interest.
Goldberg also asserted that his $6.5 million in funding was a function of investor sentiment that the market he’s attacking is underserved and undiscovered and that his solution to the problem is a good one. This, too, is patently ridiculous. Goldberg got $6.5 million in funding because BleacherReport.com is a large, successful site and investors will give entrepreneurs with a track record funding even if their new products are weak. (See Scott Kurnit, AdKeeper, $35 million Series A.) But no investor in his or her right mind thinks that Goldberg is the first person to realize that women are a large consumer market and that they have a variety of different interests. They’re betting on Goldberg, for better or worse, not his unoriginal observation that women are a good — and very big — market.
Naturally, all of these things drew criticism from people who work in women’s publishing now, women generally, and anyone with an IQ over 80 and enough intelligence to know that the interests of women extend beyond fashion, cosmetics, and celebrities and that this is not novel. Goldberg’s initial response was to reiterate that Bustle would be different because it would be BIG — tens of millions of users — and he dismissed much of the criticism on the basis that the critics were simply annoyed that a man had the temerity to step into women’s publishing.
To real the full piece, click here.