As rumored, Ubber-blogger Robert Scoble is joining the Fastcompany/Inc. magazine organization to serve as managing director of a new online property called FastCompany.TV. Kudos to all involved, including my friend and frequent panel-mate, Ed Sussman, president of Mansueto Digital.
I’m a big fan of Ed’s and have enjoyed watching the Mansueto group resurrect the FastCompany brand and position the Inc. brand more precisely. Pre-Mansueto, in one of the more hapless ways I’ve ever witnessed, the previous stewards of the FastCompany brand destroyed its early lead in fostering business-oriented “online communities” of young tech-savvy professionals. I’m not sure the toothpaste can be put back in the tube by FastCompany, but if those previous stewards had not been so clueless, they today be the billion dollar company folks like LinkedIn hope to be. I remember speaking to several of those local Friends groups and they were pre-historic versions of what we’d today call “meetups.” But in one of those strange (in hindsight) decisions, some former FastCompany management types became threatened when their readers started flocking together in groups. Some where along the way, FastCompany decided the readers who participated in these groups were not worth the hassle — in essence, they turned their most passionate readers into the enemy.
I’ve always had my doubts about the ability of a big media company to “own a community” — communities don’t like to be owned. However, I do think that great video content and great people like Robert can help serve as the cornerstone for lots of great conversations — and conversations create communities. Robert will bring a great foundation on which to carry out additional experimentation with new forms of community and media distribution.
And I’m especially glad he’s going to be doing it within the context of brands and organizations that have been built using magazines.
This is a really, really good thing.