June 29, 2010

E-mails regarding the demise of NewsLabs

From: [Chief technology officer] Nathan Chong
Date: Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 5:24 PM
To: newslabs-collective

Hi folks,

As I’m sure you’ve noticed not much has been happening with the site recently. I’m very sorry to report that this is because NewsLabs is ending.

As you know, [founder] Paul [Biggar] was on his honeymoon for most of May so I was taking charge of direction. During this time I spoke to many of you on the phone and emailed the group to let you know that we were going through a difficult post-launch period where we were struggling to reach an audience for your work. It seemed like we had the right parts (your writing and our technology) but maybe we needed to be more directed (by getting the editors involved) to move out of the hole we were in.

In retrospect, I now believe that we should never have made promises about building your online brand or large amounts of traffic (early email threads about how to deal with large number of comments now seem very ironic). If I could rewind and start again then I believe the pitch for NewsLabs should have been simpler and much more realistic: we will build you a technology platform and strive to work hard for you as programmers… but we cannot magically generate you an online brand or guarantee traffic.

We liked to use TechCrunch as a good example of an online brand… but I don’t think it was ever made clear how difficult it was to build Arrington’s work into the brand you see today. It certainly wasn’t an instant success and it was incorrect of NewsLabs to give the impression that we could easily replicate this for you.

Paul decided to leave NewsLabs two weeks ago and I gave serious thought to continuing without him. Ultimately, however, I came to the conclusion that it would be better to break cleanly than to continue.

Thank you to each of you for contributing to NewsTilt and I am sorry that we are closing like this. I have gotten to know many of you over the last few months and I am very sorry to have let you down like this. It was a difficult decision and not at all made lightly.

My immediate plans are to respectfully close NewsLabs (including returning our remaining funds to our investors) and to hibernate newstilt.com. I will make myself available over the next few weeks should you need to migrate your pieces to another online destination.

Thank you again to everyone for riding this experiment with us. I hope you’ll keep in contact.

Best regards, Nathan


From: Paul Biggar
Date: Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 7:02 PM To:
Cc: newslabs-collective

Hi folks,

I’d like to chime in with my own apologies. I had high hopes for NewsLabs and NewsTilt, and am sorry we weren’t able to follow up on our promises. I really did believe in the mission of NewsTilt, and I want to thank all of you who believed in it too. Paul

Paul Biggar
Founder – NewsLabs

> March 2010: Journalism start-up wants to build your brand and make you money

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