Monday, June 02, 2008
Technorati founder launches online travel guide business - Offbeat Guides
David Sifry is well known in the blogging world. His regular updates on the State of the Blogosphere/Stage of the Live Web were seen as definitive statements on the rise and rise of blogging. As founder and (now former) CEO of Technorati he built the blogging engine and the means for bloggers to tell who was linking to whom. Unfortunately about a year ago Sifry left day to day involvement in Technorati and Google's blog search has become the new standard for searching blogs. I have switched to using Google blog search as the results have far less spam than Technorati.
Sifry has now entered the world of online travel through an announcement yesterday (here on TechnCrunch and here on his own blog) of the launch of Offbeat Guides. Online guide books that can be bought (that's right paid for not free) in printed versions ($25) or downloaded PDF ($10). There is a video on TechCrunch where Sifry explains further.
This on demand purchasing of guide books is not new. Lonely Planet have been doing Pick & Mix a while now - allowing consumers to build a book from various chapters and down load it. Tom Hall of Lonely Planet told me recently that they have as many as 100 guides available by chapter and up to February more than 150,000 downloads.
Sifry has launched more business that I ever will but I am not convinced that this will succeed. In the new media world of TripAdvisor, blogging networks like Travelpod (owned by TripAdvisor and therefore Expedia), social networks like WAYN and now the review meta-search of UpTake consumers can find all the free information they need (maybe even too much information). In the old world, companies like Lonely Planet and Insight Guides continue to dominate the shelves of book stores and airport news agencies. There is is already enough/too much free and paid information out there for consumers to allow room for a new company to build a business asking people to pay for travel content.