Odeo For Sale

So I see that Odeo is for sale basically because they are now focusing on Twitter. In one of these posts, they note that this analyst thinks “Odeo is the only vertical podcasting site that has emerged from the pack.”

Evan references “schadenfreude” in one of his posts. I wouldn’t say that I feel that exactly, but I have had a little bit of a hard off for them since they entered the space. You can have qualms with Adam Curry and Podshow (and I certainly do) but Adam was a part of the community and help build that space. Day 1, he was there making things happen. Odeo seemed to me like the first really big carpet bagging startup, people that hadn’t been involved with anything to do with the space seeing interest and moving in despite their lack of history with or knowledge of the medium. I know that Noah was a founder of AudioBlogger, and that characterization is probably unfair but that’s always how it felt to me. The one big thing they had to trade on was the Blogger halo effect, and it really worked for them. I can remember my blood boiling as they were getting accolades for being the “best podcasting company” back when all they were was a “coming soon” website. It was pretty obvious the accolades weren’t for anything they had done to that point but for who they were.

My problem with Odeo remain this: I don’t know what they do. I mean, I see the site and the pages. Are they trying to be a directory? A network? A recommendation engine? I thought their original goal was to be a podcasting tool maker but I’m not even sure if they still do that. So, having carpet bagged in to the field without a clear idea what they want to do, they’ve eventually lost interest and moved on to the next shiny thing having done a lot of things halfway but nothing really well.

I guess I’m a competitor of sorts with AmigoFish so you should take all this with a grain of salt. I do think it is kind of funny that LeeAnn Prescott above notes their page views are more than any other podcasting site. When I go to the site, it’s because someone is using an Odeo feed on their site, and I’m trying to figure out what the original feed URL is so I don’t have to subscribe to the Odeo URL. It usually takes between 5 and 10 pages to figure that out, so part of what she points to as a virtue – their traffic – is to me a sign of their inefficiency. It’s hard to get things done with Odeo, so you have to do a lot of page refreshing. I will note with a little bit of pride that while their statistics are all bigger than those of AmigoFish, they are not so much bigger to offset the manpower discrepancy between them with their staff and me with a project I work on with about 1/10th of my spare time.

So, do I want them to get a buyer? I guess, because like the house next door selling it helps put a valuation on similar things (such as mine.) I don’t really know what the value of the site is, though, in terms of things it brings to the table. I’ll be curious to see if anyone actually wants it. If you want to buy a database of URLs (part of what they seem to be putting forth as their value), I’ve got that too of a similar order of magnitude. Perhaps this is the beginning of a contraction in the podcasting space, which I’m all for. Just like with the web 1.0 bubble burst, the scent of money in the air pulled in a lot of gold rushers. After they left a lot of really good work got done for much less money. I’m ready for those people to give up on podcasting and move on, and leave the field to those of us who really care about it.

3 Replies to “Odeo For Sale”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. While Odeo was the first aggregator I used when I first discovered podcasts (mistakenly believing top placement on Google corresponded to “best site of its kind”), despite great promises and extensive lists of features, I quickly found it to be buggy, unintuitive, and slow-moving to say the least. After eighteen months, it still hasn’t improved and, as you pointed out, in retrospect smacks of the same uninspired bandwagon development that formerly fueled booms in blogging tools, social networking sites, map-generating directories, and web-based video engines: Some trade magazine publishes an article, and the next day, dozens of spaghetti strands are thrown at the wall by Cake, Ajax, or Rails-savvy developers; then forgotten — last one to dry up and shrivel, wins. There was a point in time about a year ago when my Podcast was somehow “mysteriously added” to dozens of sites like Odeo. Mercifully, most didn’t last even this long. I’ve met and been interviewed — as I’m sure you have — by several of these types of startup companies. The owners are generally visionaries, not technologists, who have read too many articles about people like Tom Andersen and Chad Hurley, and have a sense of reality that’s just a shade below “completely delusional” concerning how much money they can make from selling off their user base. And they will talk at length about that, while saying nothing of their vision or plans to improve or enhance the vertical they’ve entered.

    Now that the powers that be have put Odeo up for sale, it’s a good indication that the numbers have long-since peaked and page views are in a steady decline. Getting bought, while probably good for the investors and owners, would be about the worst thing for Odeo’s remaining users. Sites like Odeo don’t get bought for their innovative technology or concepts (those are easy enough to recreate and improve on), they get bought for the eyeballs only. Can anybody name ONE service or site that has actually improved in quality, stability, content, and functionality after being sold? YouTube? MySpace? MusicMatch? Blogspot?

    With development tools and pre-packaged libraries becoming easier and easier to use, this disposability of two-dimensional development is a trend that’s only going to get worse in the coming years.

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