The wunderkind is on the move again. After a little more than a seven months at Washington Post Interactive, online genius Rob Curley and his entourage are on the move to Las Vegas.
Now I am a fan of Curley’s. His Red Bull-charged mind has created a number of wonderful things, from Lawrence’s Kansas uber-interactive sports site to Naples Studio 55, an online video program that, even though I’ve never set foot Naples, I do enjoy viewing from time to time.
I also share Curley’s vision that hyperlocal is the way newspapers need to develop to survive. I’ve been part of audiences to his presentations, and it’s easy to get caught up in his infectious enthusiasm for what he does and what he’s developed.
But of all the seeds Curley has planted at his previous employers, very few seem to take root. And that has me wondering if ever Curly has not been able to figure out a way to monetize his creations. For example, while Studio 55 continues in Naples, Curley’s wonderful PrepZone prep sports website is a mere shadow of its former self. Even the Post’s Deborah Howell hints that Curley’s hyperlocal projects there will be under the scrutiny of the financial wizards.
I don’t think it’s Curley’s fault, mainly because many of his projects involves cheap labor in the form of interns. And after you have a dozen interns build a site, you’re still going to need a number to people to maintain it. Many of his flowers may have wilted from neglect caused by the unwillingness of the paper to commit the level of manpower that Curley’s crew put into it.
But could it also be that while Curley’s innovations wow us an an industry, they’re met with yawns by the audience? Of all the cool apps Curley has developed, has anyone done any measurments to see if they actually net more viewers … that is, beyond the discovery period? Could it be that after the flashbang of a new Curley product, web visitors walk away to something else?
Or could it be that his former employers been too impatient with the 18-month window Curley estimates visitors need to realize things have changed, and simply cut flower before it bloomed?
This is no dig on Curley, who is a creative genuius and passionate about his work and the future for newspapers. I have a feeling he’ll be more in his element in Las Vegas than Washington, and we’ll be seeing some really cool new things blooming in the desert!
Good luck, Rob, and don’t stop belivin’!