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Rhymes with tussle

August 15, 2013 @ 11:54am

I don't know Bryan Goldberg. I know he was a founder of the sports blog network Bleacher Report and I'm more of a fan of Jim Bankoff's SB Nation. But I do pay attention to blog networks and I have many friends at Turner Broadcasting — the company that paid roughly $200M for Bleacher Report.

I was surprised to hear that Bryan had raised $6.5M to start a new site for women called Bustle. I wasn't surprised that investors would bet on him. They tend to bet on people who've won before.

The surprise was that someone who helped build Bleacher Report was launching a site for women. The Bleacher Report was widely known as a low-brow UGC sports blog network. Vivek Wadhwa, who I've known from the LAUNCH Festival as well as BusinessWeek and TechCrunch, called Bleacher Report "custom-manufactured garbage" and "a dumbing down of the web."

That same article pointed out a Bleacher Report slideshow called "The 20 Most Boobtastic Athletes of All Time," which has more than 1.4 million views.

I checked out Bustle and it was...okay. A weird mix of interesting columns, coverage of the turmoil in Egypt, celebrity gossip and a video teaching women how to breastfeed based on the song "Teach Me How To Dougie."

Bryan's first strike: Bleacher Report. Bryan's second strike: he ran sales, not usually a female friendly department. If he had a background in radio or had recently been a New York governor or Congressman, he would have already had his third strike. No chance that people would take his women's site seriously.

He posted his doomed announcement of Bustle on Sarah Lacy's PandoDaily. I like Sarah. Like Vivek, she worked at BusinessWeek and TechCrunch.

There was a LOT of criticism — in more than 100 comments, plus replies like an open letter from Elizabeth Spiers. She nailed him. So did Brooke Hammerling when she asked him if he had even read his own post.

He had two choices: fight back, make excuses and dig a bigger hole or apologize. He chose a straight up apology.

I messed up.

Being criticized is never fun. I have thick skin, and this was incredibly painful.

I thought it was well written, but I'm a guy. Let's see what everyone else thinks.

Update: the results are mixed, but mostly negative.

Newer: Pivot suspense

Older: Scalped!