The Red Herring, the last of the Venture Capital Porn magazines, has finally given it up, just short of its 10th birthday.
There was a time when the Herring, Upside, and the Industry Standard were riding high wide and handsome. More ads than they could take, more editorial pages than they could fill. They were The Elect, in their wierd technoCalvinist way, and they were more than willing to tell you so. Wearing my Publishing Wise Man hat, I was once interviewed by a gentleman from The Economist, who was wondering what was supporting these magazines, and if the success of these magazines meant that the economy beneath them had fundamentally changed.
Of course it hadn’t. Kurt Andersen once said that raising money in 1998 was as easy as getting laid in 1968. He may well have been right, and possibly in a more profound way than he meant. Most of the sex in ’68 probably lead to as many strong relationships as most of the funding in ’98 led to strong companies. In both cases, not nearly enough of them. In both cases, we’re probably paying the price today.
Then, Poof! The Standard, newest and flashiest, went first. Then Upside, the senior title of the bunch and the one with actual Adult Supervision. And now Red Herring.
Why? Because their readership sucked. The vast majority of the people reading those titles had as much involvement with the real venture market as the people reading Playboy have a real involvement with the models. Fantasy, at best. Obsession, at worst. The people who were really involved had better sources than a monthly magazine that needed a four-month lead time. The ads were bragging, the editorial was hagiographic. Though the magazines may once have had a purpose, by their end they were sponges soaking up the excess cash sloshing around the tech industry.
And Tony Perkins, the founding father, comes on and sings the same song: hey, it’s only a respite. We’re just one more round of funding away from being right back on our feet.
Just one more hit of crack and everything’ll be fine fine fine fine fine fine fine fine fine…….