One of the roles I enjoy is that of advisor to startups. Catching up on last weeks AOL / Weblogs deal a couple of things stood out. A quick technorati search yields 1,759 results, many of which talk about the $25m valuation and what if any precedent it sets. Reading this post by Jason McCabe Calcanis (founder of Weblogs,Inc), written 24 hours after the announcement …
AOL loves the fact that I’m “out there” blogging and debating the issues in our industry. Jon Miller said at our closing dinner last night that he wanted us to shake things up a little, and AOL’s amazing PR team is in synch with that. As you know AOL is moving from the wall-garden dialup company to an open, transparent, Web 2.0 company and I’m happy to help. Besides, as we all know, shaking things up is what I do best!
… and this post yesterday confirming that he was staying on after the deal was very insightful.
At AOL I don’t have to fight to get to the CEO and senior management team—I can send them an IM or go to lunch with them any time I want! In fact, I’m part of the executive team and they’ve embraced me and my team with open arms. I’ve known members of the executive team at AOL for over 10 years in some cases, so there’s a lot of history and trust between us.
Organisations cannot be something on the outside they are not already on the inside. AOL is at a major crossroads. To evolve from a closed to an open organisation it is going to need a number of change agents within AOL. I do not personally know Jason but having read his weblog for over a year now it is fair to say that he will not shrink from the opportunity. His earlier time at Sony will stand him in good stead. Group think is one of the hardest things to prevent from taking root as an organisation grows in size. Keeping the skills of reinvention and the art of abandonment alive in an organisation are key to keeping it at bay. Or to paraphrase Richard Armitage …
… you do need occasionally some new blood to come into the herd and to spur things up and make sure you’re not drinking your own bath water, that you do things in a new way on occasion and that you don’t just rely on the old tried and true tricks.
UPDATE 2 : Jason is setlling in nicely.