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Monday, June 22, 2015

Creative Entrepreneurs To Relaunch The Bold Italic

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 12:48 PM

click to enlarge DMON_21/FLICKR
  • dmon_21/Flickr

This morning, The Bold Italic’s Facebook and Twitter, which have been dormant since the company shut down in April, posted a brief, cryptic teaser: “The Bold Italic lives, stay tuned for more soon.” The news has spread through San Francisco media faster than outrage over a Marin measles party.

(Full disclosure: I was managing editor of TBI from January through April, so this is in no way objective reporting.)

Gannett, the media behemoth that launched TBI in 2009, sold the property to Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of Scripted, and Sonia Arrison, a writer whose books study “the impact of new technologies on society.” According to an email from Laura Ramos of Gannett, Rajaraman and Arrison closed the deal after "6 or so weeks of due diligence and negotiations." No other details of the sale were released, but it appears Gannett sold both the TBI website and its social media accounts. 

While it’s unclear how the new owners plan to rebuild the site’s extensive freelancer pool, it’s worth noting that Scripted is a content-on-demand marketplace. Per a 2011 article in Techcrunch:

Scripted pays writers a flat rate to create blog posts, articles, copywriting and tweets for various small business clients. The company, which says it vets writers according to wants and needs of its clients, provides a thousand posts a month for customers like Mailchimp and Levi’s.

Having amassed a grand community of writers from its days as primarily a screenwriting resource, the startup now boasts a writing userbase of 80K and claims that 80% of those writers are US based. It adds a new writer to its userbase every 25 minutes, it says.
Also joining the team is Christopher Michel, whose twitter bio lists him as the site’s “photo-editor at large.” According to his profile, he holds an MBA from Harvard and has been an angel investor at Nautilus Ventures since 2008. The firm's portfolio includes Pando Daily, Reddit, 3D Robotics, and Blue Bottle Coffee, among many others. (The Bold Italic is already listed as well.)

As of now, nobody from TBI’s original staff has signed on to the relaunched company. Many former staffers have already started new jobs elsewhere.

One of the more interesting sideshows in local media will be watching the site redefine itself without any of its founding members. And one of the sad ironies in local media is that a site that so often bemoaned the city's loss of soul will now, at best, be operated by well-meaning "creatives" from the tech industry...or, at worst, be a content mill catering to self-consciously hip advertisers. 

As with so much in San Francisco, only time will tell. 

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Jeremy Lybarger

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