Giant Bomb News

596 Comments

Area Man Visits Largish Website, Chuckles

A new installment of business and engineering updates from Dave.

On this episode of Building a Bomb, Dave shaves his hobo beard.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Dave Snider on Google+
596 Comments
Posted by snide
On this episode of Building a Bomb, Dave shaves his hobo beard.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Edited by ElixirBronze

wat is dis

edit: This is awesome! I'm truly glad the sites are growing and I wish for all of you that these new 'features' become a success.

Posted by Mojokilla

Terrible news!

Posted by karatetron

Cool beans.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Switching videos to YouTube? That seems a bit...screwed up. (That ellipses is me shying away from the obvious GB meme I could have used.)

Posted by konig_kei

my god, what an epic homeless beard.

Posted by Cloudenvy

Uh oh.

Posted by Corvak

I always get an urge to call the Big Red Phone and then just say I got a wrong number, I was actually looking for Batman.

Posted by MrMazz

Glad you guys are moving over to Youtube its to much of a Juggernaut NOT to use at this point.

So besides Meeobo selling adds with this IM Bar are we getting a IM system?

Edited by DeeGee

I don't like the sound of either of these. Youtube?

Whiskey Media must still be running at a loss to be cutting back so much.

Posted by a5ehren

Interesting. I was wondering what all that video streaming was costing you guys.

Posted by Heliosicle

I might switch to the Youtube player even though I'm a premium member, its a bit more lightweight feeling in terms of time it takes to start videos

Posted by ABK_92

BS

Posted by Cirdain
@Corvak

I always get an urge to call the Big Red Phone and then just say I got a wrong number, I was actually looking for Batman.

Posted by Gnubberen

Changes makes sense... You guys gotta make money, to keep the train going, and switching the video to youtube seems like a smart move, both in bandwidth cost and exposure to people who might never have heard of you guys.

Online
Posted by artgarcrunkle

Too bad the increased ad income probably won't lead to some of the better video content being free.

Posted by ShadowVirus

This makes me feel like I should sing up for a premium membership...

Edited by TheHT

I'm fine with the YouTube switch. Makes sense to get views up and raise awareness, but it also means I won't have to choose between streaming and progressive, since the YouTube player's essentially both.

Posted by Megasoum

So those savings on bandwith... Does that mean that you will revert back to the old codec/compression settings used for 720p? The HD videos have decreased in quality a LOT in the last couple of weeks. Frankly, it doesn't look HD anymore.

Edited by lockwoodx

youtube are run by nazis. I do not support this at all. I don't have to resubscribe till June, so the GB crew has until then to make this better.

Posted by sirdesmond

Sounds good to me. Lots of sound business concepts in these decisions, especially the Youtube one which I feel like a lot of people are not going to really understand (or will just knee-jerk reaction it as is the internet standard and freak over it for essentially nothing).

Posted by Murdouken

I don't think this is going to go down too well.

Posted by snide

@Megasoum said:

So those savings on bandwith... Does that mean that you will revert back to the old codec/compression settings used for 720p? The HD videos have decreased in quality a LOT in the last couple of weeks. Frankly, it doesn't look HD anymore.

As far as I know we have not changed our codecs at all. I'll check with Vinny though.

Posted by Hamz

Nice to see an update on what the 'top men' have been working up in the lab. Look forward to seeing WM grow as a company in the coming years :)

Posted by NickL

on my crappy internet I find that the youtube quicklooks often run much better anyways. I'll wait for my final judgement but right now I see this as a good thing.

Posted by Jolt92

If you compare it to other sites it's still not that bad. As a premium member I will still at least try both of these things, just to help you.

I though this would be something more horrible, like you laying it all to rest.

Posted by KillyDarko

Ok, so now my question is, how and where can I disable that silly bar down there? I truly hate that intrusive kind of stuff, not to mention it's making all page loading within GB to go down to a crawl... : /

Posted by Cloudenvy

@Buzzkill said:

youtube are run by nazis. I do not support this at all.

They are? I now fully support this!

; )

Posted by TekZero

I actually just saw that bar. It didn't really bother me.

Posted by bretthancock

@ShadowVirus: ding ding ding!

Posted by AxleBro

yay for none of this affecting me until September 29th 2012

Posted by Cornman89

Thanks for the transparency, Dave.
 
Also, never shave the beard. Never.

Posted by ADAMWD

Will be interesting to see how many views QLs get on YouTube.

Posted by TeenageJesusSuperstar

That's not terrible I guess? Congrats on only making the site marginally more crappy instead of totally fucking it up like most sites do!

Edited by Winsord

Smart changes. Both are relatively non-obtrusive to the common user, especially with being able to hide that IM bar. I prefer your video player, but I'm already a subscriber so, works out for me. Glad that these are important changes done in an intelligent way, as always.

Also, for those who are going to be using the Youtube player: For as many issues as Youtube has with videos not showing up in subscription boxes, the streaming service they provide has always been great and has worked extremely well.

@Pop said:

hour long videos on youtube? will the youtube videos be in HD?

People with director accounts on Youtube from 2006 and before or Youtube partners are able to upload videos of any length. As for the HD; why wouldn't they be?

Edit: Woops! That was dumb of me; totally forgot that HD is a subscriber-only feature.

Posted by Pop

hour long videos on youtube? will the youtube videos be in HD? I'll just remain a subscriber and get all the cool stuff, this doesn't worry me, how will your bandwidth be better? cause you'll still be uploading videos to the site for subscribers right? You guys are gonna get into some real nice dough congrats! now mail me a fucking sandwich!

Posted by onimonkii

as a free member i'm kinda concerned about the youtube change because one of the things people pay for is 720p video, but youtube gives it out for free. are you only going to upload lower res versions to youtube to solve this?

Posted by punpun

As someone who has yet to subscribe, I'm totally okay with this. I think the YouTube video player for us nonsubs is actually a pretty good idea.

Posted by Gav47

The Youtube player is fine by me, we might even get HD trailers. Is the meebo IM bar the same thing that The Escapist is currently using for awhile? If so that thing is trash.

Posted by MeatSim

What does hardcore Dave think of business Dave?

Posted by WJist

I appreciate the WM sites because of transparency, it was one of the things that made me subscribe when I largely could have stayed as a freeper, just listening to Bombcasts and Quick Looks while I worked.

I'm all for whatever it takes to keep you duders running, but please don't turn a site design into this. It used to be one of my favorite cleanly-designed/no BS clutter pages and now it is a mish-mash of content that follows Huffington Post's horrible page-layout footsteps.

Posted by ReyGitano

Great? Not really sure how to feel about this news; I'm happy Whiskey is trying to expand, but I also fear what the future will have in store. I have no idea what Meebo is but use the words phrase but all I can picture is Yahoo... mostly because of the word IM I guess. I just hope that not too much of the site gets outsourced, I love the cozy feeling of a singular design vision.

Posted by craigbo180

Youtube player makes sense but it definitely looks a lot less professional.

Posted by Scrumdidlyumptious

Cool. I like the Youtube player.

Edited by louiedog

GiantBomb + Youtube + YouTube support in new Xbox 360 dashboard = Giant Bomb on TV if you don't have one of the already support boxes?
 
I can dig it.

Posted by Megasoum

@snide said:

@Megasoum said:

So those savings on bandwith... Does that mean that you will revert back to the old codec/compression settings used for 720p? The HD videos have decreased in quality a LOT in the last couple of weeks. Frankly, it doesn't look HD anymore.

As far as I know we have not changed our codecs at all. I'll check with Vinny though.

Thanks. Dunno if it's a setting that was a voluntary change or not but if you look at the Batman:AC or the Ratchet All 4 one quicklooks in 720p, there is a LOT of compression.

Posted by AlexW00d

Dat beard.

Posted by Miketorreza

Lame. Just lame. You're already getting money DIRECTLY from your users, and that's all of a sudden NOT ENOUGH for you? Guess you need extra money for a new tricaster to replace the one you broke... Fuck that, and fuck these moves. This premium membership is pretty worthless I've found, the only premium content that is actually decent is on Giant Bomb... actually GB is the only site that produces decent content, period. Thank you for reminding me that I need to cancel your bullshit subscription that is totally fucking unprecedented for a VIDEO GAME WEBSITE. I don't have to pay any other site to get their fucking content, and yours is not special.

Posted by jkizzlemurphy

@Buzzkill said:

youtube are run by nazis. I do not support this at all. I don't have to resubscribe till June, so the GB crew has until then to make this better.

Nazis everyone. Nazis.

Posted by snide

@onimonkii said:

as a free member i'm kinda concerned about the youtube change because one of the things people pay for is 720p video, but youtube gives it out for free. are you only going to upload lower res versions to youtube to solve this?

Yes, we're only uploading the 360p versions of our videos to YT. We may upload higher rez trailers though eventually.