Only a mark would invest money in The Mark

That’s odd.
A Dragon usually asks how much money a venture has made so far and/or what are the realistic projected revenues before they’ll invest their hard earned cash.
Not so, apparently, for Arlene Dickinson, who is one of the investors in the “new” web site “The Mark“.
We use the word “new” because it’s already been in operation for the past eight months. But you knew that, right?
Arlene’s involvement may tend to add business legitimacy to the enterprise but we suspect she saw her monetary contribution as a donation to the cause of supporting free speech, and surely not as a viable revenue producer.
(hey we could use a few bucks over here Arlene, if you’re in the mood to throw money away!)
Revenue from opinions? Written by carefully screened opinionators?
Not now, and not tomorrow.

With no income whatsoever, co-founders Jeff Anders and Ali Rahnema, have so far got themselves offices and low-paid interns, a press release, and one heck of a meticulous web monkey doing the layout for each page. The coding is super professional. The only thing lacking is personality, like The Tyee, another start-up that has yet to make a profit and relies on donations from major organizations to stay afloat.
You would think people saw through elaborate contributor-reliant free content schemes like NowPublic.
Of all the money people invested after listening to presentations extolling how NowPublic was going to take over the internet news biz, do you think anyone ever saw even one dime come back to them?
When NowPublic was recently sold, just after Rachel Nixon left it, the new owners wouldn’t disclose what they paid for it. Probably because the answer was close to zero point zero, and all they did was assume the payroll and office expenses.
The company never made any money and was going nowhere, despite all the hype and illusion.
Another West Coast pipe-dream like Tod Maffin’s Mindful Eye Inc.

Canada does need another major web destination besides the CBC and Tea Makers, but it doesn’t look like The Mark is it.
A first impression brings one obvious word to mind – bore-ing.
CJP reporter Tim Currie writes an informative piece, and explains that The Mark is not going to be like The Huffington Post. After all why be just a publication that people actually want to read when you can be different from that. Currie includes the phrase “if it takes off”, then rightly adds “but that’s a big IF”, leaving his integrity in tact.
Beware of hype when you hear mention of this site, most likely it will come from someone with a vested interest.
This is a web site that is going to require a ton of work to keep up and keep up-to-date, with no perceived value or impact beyond that of a good one-person blog. They’re definitely not out to entertain anyone, and the impression is it’s being run by snobs for snobs.

But of course, this is all just one person’s opinion.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 10:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I read that NowPublic sold for $25 million.
    You think it was less than that?

    • Allan
      Posted February 9, 2010 at 11:29 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      It would be helpful to see a more official statement than “according to a source”.
      To “say” that it sold for $25 million is easy to do when it’s “according to a source”.
      That’s one way to plant information without having to back it up.
      Selective leaking of what could just as well be fictitious information.
      Where are the popping champagne bottles that declare another successful dot com business? That people doubled their money buying in to this idea?
      Or is it just further hype, just more of what the whole story was all along with this group?
      That was a hallmark of NowPublic, being oversold on themselves and to outsiders.
      In their minds they were much bigger than they were. They were important in their own minds whether reality supported it or not.
      And reality is sometimes only a matter of social consensus, which can be shaped by selective disbursement of information, such as half-truths.
      So spreading a rumour that the company sold for $25 million does not harm the illusion that they want the public to believe.
      It looks good for the buyer too, whether it’s true or not.
      Is that in shares or cash?
      Is the company claiming that investors didn’t lose money?
      That website, had apparently been living on $12 million over the past four years.
      Any value they did legitimately have was in software development, and not in citizen journalism.

  2. Justin
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 10:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The point of the Mark is not to copy the flawed (in my opinion, sorry) CBC model of surviving on government handouts, nor is it anything like NowPublic (it’s not about news, it’s about opinions). The are taking a fresh approach that I for one am excited about.
    Very few startups make money in their first year and yes, they might not succeed (unlike crown corporations, most startups fail) but I for one am excited to see where they go.
    I’m tired of reading opinion pieces from journalists that don’t know what they’re talking about. If I want to read about business, I’d sooner read something written by someone who has spent their life in business than the opinion of a journalism student who spent a couple of hours on Google. If we get really lucky maybe the CBC will buy some of their content so I can stop reading wafer-thin articles about the topics I’m interested in.

    • Allan
      Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Would the Toronto Star and Globe sites begin to turn a profit if they just had more opinions? Free opinions written by vain academics?

      Not to belittle your excitement over freshness, but we’re focused here on whether or not The Mark is a viable investment or a hobby that will never earn a dime.

      Why do people look at a web site instead of a newspaper?
      Because it’s free. And the ads are easily ignored (so far!)
      Also because the web allows for multi-media that print can’t.
      The only drawback is that you need a somewhat costly set-up to get at that content.
      The iPad is the beginning of changing that.

      Is the Toronto Star’s web site making money?
      We know that the CBC isn’t, and that’s touted as the number one web destination for Canadians.
      Has the CBC over-spent on it’s digital internet presence? Absolutely.
      When people have so much choice as they do today, a site has to have some pretty extraordinary content to attract readers.
      Huffington is successful why?
      In part because of Arianna being the face of the publication, and it’s credibility.
      And because the page is fun, taking in all the news, including the tabloid news.
      We don’t have a tabloid news branch in Canada. No TMZ, no Perez, Gawker, no Slate or Beast.
      We have a Walrus and Mondoville and Burques.

      Canada needs more of a presence on the net, but creative people have yet to join up and make it happen.
      One day we will surely have an alternative TV station and radio service on the internet. Not just web pages.
      People want news and to be entertained.
      Places like Fox and MSNBC and Huffington give people that.
      But neither of those elements are anywhere in the picture at The Mark.
      The disappointment with The Mark, apart from the instant boredom, is that they are aiming so low.
      Cheap and dull, dull, dull.
      More worthless crap.
      Today it’s possible to be on the internet live as a television picture or a radio signal 24 hours a day.
      Why isn’t The Mark aiming for that?

      • Allanjoined April 10, 2009
        Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        Then we could lie in the tub with our iPads, and watch PoonGirl interviewing Jian Ghomeshi, Billy Bob Thornton, Salman Rushdie and Harrison Ford.

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