Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits Hayden Black of "Goodnight Burbank"

BoomTown just spent a few days in Los Angeles recently, and will be there a lot more over the next year, part of a new vision quest in search of what makes great original content on the Web.

Also, how any of it is going to make any money. Yes, that.

As part of this journey, I will be visiting online content efforts of all kinds, shapes and sizes–from small one-man bands to large-scale projects by big studios.


And what better way to start than with Hayden Black, creator of two really interesting Web series: a behind-the-scenes spoof of a local news broadcast called “Goodnight Burbank” and “abigail’s ‘x-rated’ teen diary,” in which Black plays a very believable teen girl.

“Burbank” came online in 2006 and “abigail” just this year.

Both have garnered millions of views, without any marketing, at a low cost of a few thousand dollars per episode.

Black, 34, who was formerly in television marketing and wrote and produced for the medium, has a production company called Evil Global Corporation.

I visited him when I was in L.A. recently, where we talked about how how he puts together the show.

Obviously, the business plan is still small scale, with advertising and product placement as its best possibility for money-making, along with making online hits to offline ones.

But first, Black has to build an audience, and he is doing OK so far. “Burbank” is one of the most popular downloads on iTunes, and Black has just inked a deal to appear on Hulu.com too.

In addition, he has presence on many social-networking sites and is about to launch a widget that will allow his audience to talk to each other from any of them.

Here’s why I like about Black: He is fresh, curious and runs circles around a lot of other online episodic efforts armed with a lot more money and so-called “Hollywood experience.”

Also, he’ll try anything.

Most of all, Black also does not dismiss the old way of doing things, focusing on development and noting quite wisely, “Storytelling never goes away.”

Indeed, it does not.

Here’s my video interview with Black:

And here is a recent episode of “Burbank”:

And here is a recent episode of “abigail”:

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google