RockClimbing.com Under New Management

by Tom Markiewicz on March 19, 2009

Popular rock climbing portal RockClimbing.com is under new management again. Citing economic conditions, they’re reconfiguring ownership and dropping Jay Young as a full-time, salaried publisher (via @theclimbergirl).

Rockclimbing.com, together with its sister sites Dropzone.com and BASEjumper.com, were purchased by NameMedia last year and operated by them since then. Unfortunately, as the economy worsened over the past few months it became less desirable for NameMedia to operate these sites given their business direction, which brought them to a difficult choice: find a suitable buyer or shut the sites down. Neither option was very desirable at this stage, so after much deliberation a third alternative was chosen, namely to sub-contract the operational responsibility back to the previous owners, Willem (user sangiro) and me. We’ve run these sites on a pretty tight budget before and we believe we can do so again, thus ensuring the longevity of the user communities.

What this means is that we will immediately resume all day-to-day management and operational responsibilities of the sites, while NameMedia will handle marketing and ad sales. NameMedia will remain the overall owner but we will have a minority interest in the value of the sites as a longer-term incentive for our efforts.

From the perspective of a good writer losing a full time gig this is really sad news. But while there are obvious financial difficulties across all industries right now, I’m disappointed with companies (not just climbing-related ones) using the economy to cover for all their business decisions. The economy has been deteriorating for a long time. This didn’t happen over night.

The economy is cyclic. Yes, it is bad now, but it will improve. Unfortunately, it’s never a good idea to rely on a single, major revenue stream. Advertising budgets have been drying up for a while now and it would have been better to see a proactive move from NameMedia as opposed to this reactionary one (i.e. possibly cutting a writer back to part-time first).

At least the previous owners have passion for the business and stepped up the plate to keep it running instead of a complete shut-down. Sadly, this is what happened to Your Climbing (well, essentially – the new owners have been trying to sell again). I know one of the original founders of that site and while he was an outdoor enthusiast, he wasn’t a climber. So it was much more difficult (good or bad I guess) to keep a non-profitable site running.

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