Backfence.com, a pioneering hyperlocal media company, is shutting down. Terry Heaton, pulling together Web commentary on what he calls some important lessons, says:
The announced closing of Backfence has brought about some refreshing and much-needed discussion on the subject of hyperlocal news and the web. This is an important discussion, because a lot of companies are looking to hyperlocal as the salvation of their business model. But the concept is misunderstood and, as a result, carries a false promise for mainstream media.
As many of you know, Backfence purchased my Bayosphere site about 15 months ago. I became a shareholder and, for a time, a consultant to the company and part-time blogger.
Which is why I can’t say much about this, even though I’ve known about it for some time. I had some confidential conversations with the Backfence principals during the past year and a half. I won’t violate those confidences. Sometime in the relatively near future, I hope to post something about how I believe hyperlocal journalism can work best in a rapidly changing media environment.
Don’t imagine that Backfence’s demise is anything terribly tragic. It’s unfortunate, yes, particularly for the founders who put so much time and effort into the project (and somewhat less so for the investors), but let’s reserve seriously painful thoughts for events that deserve them.
Most startups fail. That is not a bad thing. It is a necessary thing, because a tolerance for risk — no, a need to embrace it — is at the core of how good things eventually come from experimentation. It’s a vital part of how we learn, and improve.