Much anxiety yesterday when it was announced that the company which owns popular blog/social network LiveJournal had laid off much of its staff. The fact that the company is owned by a mysterious Russian firm could only add images of sinister, Boris the Babysitter-like figures and greater anxiety. While the number of layoffs was not as dire as first reported, it still highlighted the continuing problem of making money off the Internet:

LJ’s failure should serve as a warning to Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, and other free social-networking and user-gen sites. Livejournal has (had?) an addictive social experience that its millions of users spent hours on every day, but the site could never figure out how to transform that into a sustainable business.

A variety of revenue-generating ideas like 99 cent “virtual gifts” and freemium add-ons never panned out, (these ideas are still being talked about as working models for other sites). Without a clear business plan, Livejournal stumbled on until its owners finally decided to cut the cord.

As news of the cutbacks spread, thousands of people who committed their sensitive thoughts to the platform over the years raced to download and back up — The Beat included! LJ syndicates a lot of popular webcomics, including Kate Beaton, ACT-I-VATE and so on, so its shaky situation is of more than passing interest to the comics community, and not just because so many comics types have blogs there.


  1. Well, I just started a small, nondescript journal there, so it’s not too much trouble to move it. It’s not like anyone reads it anyway…

    Curiously, hardly anyone blinked when AOL ended its Hometown and photo sharing sites a few months ago.

    Oh, and it’s not an addictive site. Very difficult to search for people. The homepage is rather plain, and does not invite visitors to engage the site. The sole advertisement doesn’t load (Adobe Flash 10). It says there are 17.9 Million communities and journals (not users, CREATED CONTENT), 210 thousand entries in the past 24 hours, but no easy way to look at them.

    Will this scare cause people to flee to Blogspot? Or might Publisher’s Weekly steal a page from the Comics Industry* and offer the LiveJournal diaspora a home on a revamped Comics Week page?

    *see: Harvey Diaspora creates Star Comics; Marvel Diaspora infuses Acclaim catalog

  2. Thanks for the heads-up. LJ has been an easy way to get feedback on my webcomic and commune with others interested in such obscure topics. Not to mention that dedicating my LJ account to a comic has curtailed my previous use of the blog, i.e., whining, fanwank, and unhealthy obsessing over BPAL perfumes.

    Time for me to race to do that download and backup.

  3. “ is currently unavailable due to emergency maintenance. Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with our recent company layoffs! It’s a technical problem, not a lack-of-personnel problem.

    Thank you for your patience. ”

    Oh noes the lights have gone out!

  4. This is why I will always base everything I do on the internet on free/open-source software and standard web hosting services. I might use other stuff from time to time, but only for gravy or as a place to mirror content. That way, if all else (but the net itself) fails, I can always self-host.

  5. Ecto is awesome but it doesn’t back up stuff from 4-5 years ago. However IT IS GREAT! I’m not totally crazy about Ecto 3, but maybe that’s because I’m not so into CSS.

    Josh, this post from Dan Curtis Johnson’s lj has some ideas. Some people are using LJBook, as well, but it seems to be overloaded right now.

    I downloaded ljmigrate but haven’t figured out how to do it yet — my programming is about as good as my cooking.