Brain Clutter

January 5, 2007

TechCrunch has cash to spare — introduces forums

Filed under: business, crunchgear, forum, jive, social networking, tech, techcrunch, web — brainclutter @ 10:55 am

TechCrunch logo

Things must be going pretty well over at TechCrunch for them to be able to afford a Jive forum worth thousands of dollars!

The new TechCrunch forum is a place for users to continue discussing hot articles that have dropped off the front page. It’s also a place where entreperneurs can plug their new start-up if they haven’t been lucky or newsworthy enough to warrant a spotlight article by Arrington or his staff. The idea itself is fantastic and solves the major catch-22 of popular, fast-paced blogs — They want discussion but when they post 12 articles per day and only display 5-10 on the home page, stories can quickly become “old news” and it’s less convenient for users to participate in active debate/speculation/whatever.

I don’t question the need for a forum — the need is obvious. What deserves speculation is their choice of software.

Firstly, take a look at Jive’s forum pricing chart:

Jive's pricing chart

Yowza… I’m unsure which version TC is using, but I’m guessing “Gold” because of their customized theme, a feature only available with the Gold package. Also, I’m not sure if they worked out an advertising deal with Jive but these prices are a bit steep when compared with open-source forum software or even a custom-built forum app. I live up in Canada (northwestern Ontario), where you could pay someone to build you a custom forum that would be just as feature-rich for a fraction of that price. Maybe “Valley” programmers/designers are in much higher demand and would therefore charge much more… I don’t know.

Next, look at the features of the Jive forum software. You can’t argue that Jive provides an amazingly rich feature set, but does TC require every single bit of functionality they provide? Multi-language support? Reporting? Workflow efficiency? These features are pretty darn cool, sure, but TC’s background is in BLOGGING. Comparing the feature set TC is used to with blogging to the micro-management tools available with their new forums is like comparing Meebo to Bebo… they just aren’t the same. Then again, perhaps TC has been frustrated with the lack of administrative options with their WordPress blog framework and welcomes all the itty-bitty details of the Jive forums.

Finally, let’s look at the decision to pay lucrative fees for a forum from a business perspective (if they did indeed have to pay). TC supposedly earns $10,000.00 per sponsored ad per month on their home page — $60,000.00 total per month (TechCrunch ad policy). With that kind of income, you probably need to write off as many business expenses as you can to reduce income, come tax-time (and hey, that time is just around the corner). Also, one of the big features of a Jive forum is the customer support they provide. When the solution to a problem is just a phone call/email away, it makes administration that much easier. Also, let’s face it — TechCrunch is in the business of reporting web/tech news; not building forums. While they could probably build their own forum without too much hassle in RoR/PhP, it would take time away from their primary focus of reporting cutting-edge news.

Also, let’s not forget the “bragging rights” a Jive forums enables your business. TC is now in a league with Apple and Sun in terms of their forum software… Can I get a Borat, “Wuw wuw wuw!?”

TC forums

One last thing I’d like to mention is that their forum article states that they “quietly launched a new area of the site.” Why would they “queitly” launch the forum and then post a front page article about it? Seems contradictory, no? Especially when you consider that their forum is in pretty rough shape right now — it lacks organization, proper theming, and users are reporting that their confirmation emails aren’t arriving in a timely manner. Maybe they wanted to generate buzz or maybe they wanted to conduct a “live beta.” If so, can I get another Borat, “Great success!?”

My suggestions for improvement:

  1. Create subcategories in the main forum (published articles, new startups, general discussion, etc.)
  2. Bring the theme more in-line with their visual identity (maybe it’s the designer in me talking, but the green in the header does not match the green they use over at TC).
  3. Use the “Reward System” to boost user participation… Come on… CrunchGear gives away lots of goodies! 😀

Bravo, TechCrunch for enabling yourself with a discussion solution for your extremely popular blog and generating a little controvery along the way… intended or not, it’s a great strategy. 😉



  1. Dear administration, I am assured, that I shall express the general opinion of all visitors and consequently on behalf of everything, I speak you the hugest thanks for creation and maintenance of such remarkable project!

    As very much it would be desirable to hear something about plans for development of the project.

    P.S. If our help is necessary – address, we always with pleasure shall help you!

    Comment by RemPypeReelve — December 16, 2008 @ 9:45 am

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