Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere: Backing, High Profile Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Tech journalist and grassroots media advocate Dan Gillmor left the San Jose Mercury News at the end of 2004 with angel funding (Mitch Kapor and the Omidyar Network) and the chance to put his ideas into action via Grassroots Media Inc. Last May, entrepreneurial effort Bayosphere launched to great expectations — despite Gillmor’s efforts to keep said expectations low — and then never seemed to gain the kind of steam a community-based project requires for even a modicum of success. In late December, Gillmor’s announcement about his next efforts — a non-profit citizen journalism foundation affiliated with two universities — left Bayosphere in limbo. It’s still there as efforts to keep it going in a different guise continue but Gillmor finally has broken his silence about what went wrong. In a piece published on Bayosphere last week, Gillmor said, “I erred, in retrospect, by taking the standard Silicon Valley route. I was trying to figure out how to make this new phenomenon pay its own way out of the gate, just as the traditional, still deep-pocketed media, super-energized entrepreneurs and legions of talented ‘amateurs’ — a word I use in the most positive sense here — were starting to jump seriously into the fray. … As is obvious to anyone who’s paid attention, the site didn’t take off — in large part, no question about it, because of my own miscues and shortcomings.”
Be sure to read the full post if you’re thinking of starting a new venture, investing in one or simply want to understand why some promise doesn’t pan out. And, if you’re interested in social media, user-gen content and and grassroots media, keep an eye on the new Center for Citizen Media.

Dan Gillmor’s First Grassroots Media Project: Bayosphere.com

Dan Gillmor Changes Course; Whither Bayosphere?