You know, it's a funny thing trying to run largish web sites these days. To be honest it's weird just saying the word largish, but that's what Whiskey Media is certainly creeping towards. That's not to say it's REALLY BIG, or HUGE, but it's definitely better than we expected. There is no lack of giddy nostalgia when I look back on how I ended up at what became Whiskey Media--walking into Jeff's house in Petaluma, Mel's Diner for breakfast with Shelby, or farther back to a know-it-all kid that dropped out of college because he was spending too much time building websites. I certainly didn't think this was possible. This silly website, where a group of editors often huddle around a red phone waiting for you to call a number and make the red light blink--in much the same way you guys wait for a new something to pop up on the homepage. No, I certainly didn't see that coming.
It hasn't all been sunshine though. On the business end of the sites we argue like opinionated parents about what you, the collective group of users, want to see and what services we can provide. Should we tell you everything? What if we tell you something that freaks you out so much you run away and never come back? God forbid, what if one of you runs away and gets some girl pregnant. You get the point. There are lots of fights about you. Almost like parents, we try to make the best decisions we can to build a business that's healthy and sustainable and we try not to make too many mistakes along the way. While we have made some mistakes and unpopular decisions, we've always tried to be extremely honest and up front about them and the reasons we made them. A biz dude might even say we've been transparent. Uggh.
Continuing that transparency I'm announcing two fairly major things we're launching on the engineering / business side of the sites that will go into effect for everyone who isn't a premium member later today.
- We've partnered with Meebo to deliver their IM chat bar across our sites. This helps us sell high-value advertising that frankly, we have no internal infrastructure to do ourselves. They've been really easy to work with and it fills a gap in our company. As an honest tech company, they've made it easy to hide the bar if you don't like it.
- Over the next couple weeks we'll be switching the video player that anyone who isn't a premium member sees to YouTube. This will save us some money on bandwidth and let us take advantage of YouTube's ad sales network, but most importantly it will increase our visibility on YouTube and introduce more people to our sites.
We're excited about both of these changes. I can tell you that one of our main goals for the next couple of years is exposing a larger audience to our unique brand of content. I think we're going to bring a lot of new users to the sites through YouTube, Boxee and Roku that may not have heard of us. The bandwidth off-load for our increasingly mis-named, hour-long Quick Looks is nothing to sneeze at either, but really that's just a secondary win for what continues to be a frugal, growing business. We made both of these deals to help grow Whiskey larger.
Again, if you're a premium member (monthly or yearly), neither of these things will affect you, unless you want them to. They're optional features you can turn on or off as you please in your profile settings page. You can assume this is all a planned attempt to force you into finally subscribing, but our primary motive is to help us grow our largish sites into even largish-er sites.
And that's the funny thing about running largish websites, they always feel small no matter how big they get. We might need a second big red phone next year.