Thursday, January 19, 2006

Alarm goes off over Gather

The excellent alarm:clock blog, which is usually devoted to being a journal of record for tech company M&A/VC activity, has included some editorialising about the Web 2.0 phenomenon recently. Today it details how Gather.com is spending its VC spondoola: advertising on NPR.

Cluelessness. Driving home last night, we heard an ad for Gather.com running on the nationally syndicated NPR program Marketplace. Those ads are not cheap and we suspect Gather might only get a dozen or so clicks.

We had been wondering if we were a bit too harsh about Gather.com in a recent post - startups are tough and we don't wan't to rub salt in wounds - but the fact that Gather.com is using its $9M in funding on radio advertising makes us certain that these guys are clowns and their VCs are fools.

Harsh enough now? Geez, I've been half-snarking a bit about Newsvine lately, another in this space which Michael Arrington calls News 2.0, but compared to this I'm a pussycat. Of course, Gather's first funding round of US$1 million came from Minnesota Public Radio so this might be a contra deal that wouldn't cost them a penny in hard cash, meaning that the criticism would be unwarranted. Still, radio is the sort of medium that reaches taxi drivers, and as we all know when taxi drivers start giving stock tips on Web 2.0 companies that will be a sure sign that it's jumped the shark. For the sake of the entire industry, I hope the Gather ads aren't a portent of Steve Rubel's twopocalypse.

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