July 05, 2006
Thoughts about Rocketboom implosion
I've been out of touch the last few days on a farm in Ohio, so when I got back in the city, I decided to check the Yahoo Videoblogging Group to reconnect to the videoblog zeitgeist. I was greeted with a long thread of posts about a split between Amanda Congdon and Andrew Baron, the two powers behind Rocketboom.
For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Rocketboom is a very popular daily videoblog. Exactly what precipitated this departure is a matter of hot debate on blogs and online discussion groups. Amanda created a video on her personal videoblog saying that Andrew, who has a majority stake in the show, did not want to work with her anymore. Andrew posted on the Yahoo Videoblogging Group that he learned that Amanda was leaving upon seeing her video. Chuck Olsen posted that things had been strained between them recently and he had been mediating between them for the last couple of days.
It's not surprising the partnership buckled. It's got to be unbelievably difficult to produce a 5-day a week video program on a shoestring. Add to that the business and publicity pressures and you get an enterprise ripe for implosion. Even with the best of intentions, those kind of pressures can mess up a working relationship.
I have a couple of personal memories of the pre-breakup Rocketboom. The first was a disasterous appearance as my alter ego Yanni Goldthtein, holithtic healer, on the Rocketboom set. Yanni gave his holistic take on the war in Iraq, augmented by a flipbook animation. He concluded the interview by offering to massage Amanda's chakras, which he did very unsubtly, to her great annoyance. The next day, Andrew told me that the interview footage was a bust, but he liked the way the flip book looked. So I ended up making a couple more flipbooks and having them featured on the show, which was a thrill for me. Every now and then I'd intersect with Andrew or Amanda at some vlogger event. Last time I saw them was at Vloggercon, where fans were swarming them like ants on sugar.
I think the pre-breakup incarnation of the show had a lot of merit. This had a lot to do with both Andrew and Amanda. Andrew is one of those rare people who comes up with a vision and is actually dogged enough to see it through. Amanda for her part is expressive, has great timing, and can really connect with audiences. Their content was eclectic, ranging from internet fluff to police brutality. On the writing side, I'm sure both contributed plenty. Both of them worked like dogs cranking the show out. In recent months, they pulled in a web of correspondents and editors to help them, but although I'm sure that helped, it takes work to manage people too.
This split is especially public. Since they are both players in an interactive medium, many of their fans (and detractors too) are chiming in. Either way I wish both Andrew and Amanda good luck in their future efforts. I have a lot of respect for their work, and I'm sure they both learned tons working with each other, even if this chapter hurts.
Posted by Jonny at July 5, 2006 06:09 PM
I think maybe Amanda was a little less than satisfied with his obsessive videoblogging of his wanking
Posted by: Robert Smith at July 15, 2006 03:19 PM
A true tragedy in the anals of videoblogging history
Posted by: Robert Smith at July 15, 2006 03:21 PM
R.smith3231:I think you mean "Annals."
Posted by: jonny goldstein at July 15, 2006 04:36 PM