The Gather-ing Storm

Rob Hof

Yikes, I guess the hype about Web 2.0 is starting to reverse course. Just as the new blogger network Gather gets $6 million more in venture funding, bloggers are falling all over themselves to dump on it. No surprise that some of the knocks come from competitors such as Jason Calacanis and those like Kent Newsome who worked on failed antecedents. But some of the most critical comments are coming from folks who normally are quite open to new Web 2.0 companies, such as Mike Arrington and Om Malik. Steve Rubel even thinks it's another sign that a Web 2.0 crash is coming.

Truth be told, they all have a point (actually several good points). The site right now is so full of unexplained features that it's hard to figure out what to do. And the stories voted tops by readers don't exactly seem like stop-the-presses stuff. They include someone's visit to a park in Grand Rapids, Mich., and another's muddled rant on avian flu policies. Though I don't know enough to speak to the business model, some folks clearly believe that it will be a stretch for Gather to pay bloggers enough from the ads they generate to provide true incentives.

Finally, the manifesto by lead investor Jim Manzi of Lotus fame, which trumpets the end of "the literary industrial complex," whatever that means, betrays a certain arrogance attitude that seems to conflict with the grass-roots goal. Since it's hardly the first to stake out the general territory of social news sites--there's also Newsvine and an attitude seems unwise.

Well, the game's still young. And Gather's in beta, after all. If it can bring all these pieces together more elegantly, it could evolve into a worthwhile service. For now, it's got plenty of work to do with all that money.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.