Word came around over the weekend that one of the early bastions of the blogosphere, BlogRolling.com would be shutting down soon (ish). The Blog Herald and Inquisitor gave some insight into the closure, but I was once a user of BlogRolling.com when I used Blogware for my blog engine, so I pinged the last person I knew who worked on it, Ross Rader, for some insight into the passing of something that was once so important. Ross connected me with Ken Schafer EVP of Products at Tucows and I posed a few questions to Ken:
So, the big question is when will BlogRolling.com shut down?
Unfortunately the way BlogRolling has always worked isn’t really acceptable anymore now that malware scanners have become more aggressive. We’d need to do a lot of work to rebuild BlogRolling to be “scanner friendly”. And we can’t really afford to do that. So we’ve decided to wind down the service.
We’re currently working out a plan on how exactly we’ll do that and we’ll be posting an update on that at http://status.blogrolling.com in the next few weeks. In the meantime we’re suggesting people copy there links and remove the BlogRolling code from their site as soon as they have a chance.
Six Apart has been acquired by Video Egg, Microsoft has switched to WordPress.com… BlogRolling.com was one of the early parts of the blogosphere (I used it myself), what do you see that has changed online that seems to be pushing some of the original foundational elements to the side?
This feels to me like a natural evolution of the Internet. I think sharing (not just consuming) information online is now deeply embedded in many (most) people’s understanding of what the Internet is good for. We’re just using new tools to augment the first viable sharing platform – blogging. Nothing wrong with that, this is how the Internet grows and changes.
What’s next for Tucows?
We’re really happy with the evolution of the company into four distinct services for four distinct groups of customers.
OpenSRS manages over ten million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 10,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is rapidly becoming the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. And our latest venture, Butterscotch.com, is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com.
We’re constantly innovating and growing each one of these services and we’re very happy with how the industry has responded to them.
Is the Hover platform going to be a major focus of attention?
Hover has been a great success for us. We’ve got very happy customers on the service but more importantly we’re learning lots of lessons about providing amazing services and experiences to consumers and that is allowing us to share that knowledge back to our resellers so they can grow stronger in this incredibly competitive environment.
Ken referred to BlogRolling as a labor of love, but one that they just couldn’t support any more. This isn’t the first time Tucows has been in this position either. Back in the day (the way back of 2005), Blogware was one of the best hosted blog platforms out there. It had features like drag-and-drop sidebar widgets and rapid re-theming long, long before WordPress ever did (in fact I showed Matt Mullenweg how easy the widgets were in 2006). Unfortunately the hosted blog platform business (and the required infrastructure investments) is one that is hard to succeed in today. Just look at Microsoft closing down Live Spaces and switching everyone to WordPress.com and the purchase of Six Apart by Video Egg as just two of the most recent examples.
As for great services that just aren’t working out, the soon to close Xmarks service just points to how hard it is to run a free service these days. This is why I’m starting to make sure that I spent the few extra dollars for things like Dropbox and soon SimpleNote. The great services can’t all run with just all free users, if the “Premium” cost isn’t that high for some great added features, why no spring for them? SimpleNote Premium is a whopping $12/year.
So as BlogRolling.com and Xmarks close down, maybe we should think about what freemium services we use and maybe if it’s time to cough up some cash to support them.