Ezra Butler wonders if and when that Mashable CNN sale might actually happen.
Yesterday was Tuesday, March 13, the date it was announced by Felix Salmon that the news behemoth CNN would purchase social media site Mashable for $200 million. The announcement was attributed to a “little bird” on the Reuters video blog late Sunday night, and, within seconds, no one in the Twittersphere could talk about anything else. Blogs blogged about it. It was big news.
Ex-Mashable employees dutifully tweeted their congratulations, if the rumour was true. A chorus of people erupted, with the refrain, “I saw it coming months ago.” But… the rumour from Austin didn’t actually come true. At least, not yet.
This isn’t to say it won’t happen tomorrow. Or the next day. Or for a different amount of money. In the tech media world, we believe this will happen. We collectively want it to happen. Not because we’ve read Mashable in the last three years. Nor do we have any friends left working there.
We want it to happen, because it would tell the world that social media is worth $200 million. It would allow us to call our fathers who watch CNN religiously and inform them how our industry is now officially relevant. It is unlike the unofficial symbolic Twitter race Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to in April 2009, because now the stakes are real.
But the prophesy from Austin failed, didn’t it? So what’s next? Historically, when prophesies have failed, one of three archetypal coping mechanisms employed to deal with the stress of failure have been observed.
The first is to stop believing. To say, “The prophet was a false prophet, and I was foolish to follow him. I will go back to my former way of life and learn from this lesson not to believe in this sort of thing again.”
The second is to try and figure out what is wrong and what may change. “Our calculation must have been wrong, we must have not understood the word of the prophet correctly.”
And the third, taken by only the most faithful minority, is to give up – as they did 103 miles north of Austin, in Waco, when 82 Branch Davidians gave up their lives in belief of their leader, David Koresh in 1993. In the coming days, I wonder if there will be articles like this written, and if so, in what way.
“Reuters lied to.”
“CNN and Mashable talks stall.”
But we must ask ourselves about the third possibility, and I promise this isn’t because the thought of a hundred thousand social media gurus committing seppuku gives me a hard-on (though it does): is the failure of Mashable to be bought on the day the pundits claimed a death blow for social media and the vile “[VIDEO] [UPDATE]” headlines which have so defaced the internet?
Dare we dream that Cashmore’s empire of linkbait drivel, a site that has done so much to ruin journalism on the web, might not be worth such appalling sums of money? That the board of CNN might have come to a collective moral realisation, looked at each other and said: “What are we doing?”
Yeah. Don’t count on it.