Back in 1999, Mark Frauenfelder wrote an article about new web tools that made it easier to do something called “blogging.” His editors at the technology magazine The Industry Standard declined to publish it, concluding that blogging didn’t really seem like a very big deal. Turns out it was.
It’s certainly been a very good thing for Frauenfelder, who deployed the tools he learned about for his ill-fated article to start posting interesting links and offbeat observations on boingboing.net. In time, three friends who shared a similar appetite for curious information filtered through a nonmainstream worldview—Cory Doctorow, Xeni Jardin, and David Pescovitz—joined him. And by the mid-2000s, Boing Boing had become one of the most-read and linked-to blogs in the world.
We know what happens next: This hobby morphs into a successful business. But Boing Boing’s version of that tale is a little different. Frauenfelder and his partners didn’t rake in investment capital, recruit a big staff and a hotshot CEO, or otherwise attempt to leverage themselves into a “real” media company. They didn’t even rent an office. They continued to treat their site as a side project, even as it became a business with revenue comfortably in the seven figures. Basically, they declined to professionalize. You could say they refused to grow up.
It tells the story of how a few folks can do something they enjoy, not sell out, and make a profit all at the same time. Well worth a read.