Sunday, July 11, 2004

32 Grok

By September 2000, the date of the print special issue Grok, my portfolio was tanking--it didn't wait for the Bush Administration, despite what the current ABB crop of economists try to tell us. Grok was the spin-off from The Industry Standard, my favorite morning coffee house read in 1999 and 2000.

In his book Starving to Death on $200 Million James Ledbetter writes:
On a regular basis, it [The Standard] would publish a "special report" on a single topic, such as the role of the Internet in health care, travel, advertising and marketing, and the like. Because these were scheduled months in advance, the ad department could sell to businesses in those fields; during The Fat Year the special reports became huge moneymakers. Essentially, the idea behind Grok was to isolate the special reports and make them into their own magazine. Hence, the first issue of Grok, to debut in September 2000, was devoted to the entertainment industry, the second to education, and so on.

Like too many magazine ideas cooked up by already-successful publications, the motivation for Grok seemed entirely ad-driven. And in fact, Battelle had told people that we were creating it "because we need another bucket," adopting the lingo of IDG without any apparent irony. In retrospect, Grok seems like a profoundly stupid idea.

Figuring out the genealogy and life span of Grok is a little like trying to map my husband's genealogy. After collapsing in 2001, The Industry Standard was resurrected this year as an on-line magazine. There was an on-line column, then e-zine called Media Grok [b. Sept. 1998] that may have been ressurrected twice, evolving into Grok Unspun. The piece in hand apparently had a 5 issue run. It is a glut of expensive ads, even though by the fall of 2000, The Industry Standard had lost about half its size compared to the spring issues. Most of the companies with ads in Grok burst in the dot com bust of 2000. It's like browsing a cemetery list.

Bob Cohn, the editor, wrote in the premiere issue:
"Helping readers make sense of this explosion [of the internet economy]is the mission of our weekly magazine [The Industry Standard]. But as the Internet seeps into every corner of the economy, we're finding it impractical to deliver in-depth coverage of so many topics and still meet our commitments as a newsweekly.

That's where Grok comes in. Each month we'll focus on a single aspect of the Internet Economy. (This month: entertainment. Coming soon: education, wireless, retain.)"
Grok; special reports on the Internet Economy
[first issue] September 2000
Ceased after 5 issues, in 2001
ISSN [Industry Standard] 1098-9196
Publication schedule: not listed
$4.95; [no subscription price for Grok--mine came with Industry Standard]
Subject: Internet Economy, special reports
The Industry Standard
315 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94111-1701
Editor in Chief: Jonathan Weber
Editor: Bob Cohn
Chairman, President, CEO [The Standard]: John Battelle


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home