Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

AlleyCorp's Kevin Ryan Speaks!

With the sale of paidContent to the Guardian Media Group and the talks TechCrunch has been in with AOL, there certainly is a lot of hubbub around tech blogging sites of late.

One of the more interesting sites that has gone up over the last year is Silicon Alley Insider, which is headlined by former Internet analyst Henry Blodget (yes, that Henry Blodget).

But featuring Blodget’s speedy analysis of big trends, and news about Web and media players, with a sprinkling of reporting from its small team of writers, it’s been a sharp entrant into the sector.

Perhaps most compelling is that the site is backed by Web 1.0 entrepreneur Kevin Ryan, former CEO of DoubleClick (GOOG), who has nested SAI inside a network of new Web efforts at AlleyCorp.

Ryan founded what is essentially a Web 2.0 version of an incubator with former DoubleClick CTO Dwight Merriman.

While one can debate DoubleClick’s ads-in-your-digital-face strategy over its growth (it is now a division of Google), there is no question Ryan’s aggressive early efforts set the stage for the commercialization of the Web that continues today.

Now Ryan is trying to do the same for Web content on SAI. It just got a new small slug of funding; Blodget is also adding two new business sites to the mix.

What AlleyCorp all means is a bit eclectic. Ryan’s network of affiliated sites includes the content delivery network Panther Express, the 10gen apps development platform, a shopping engine called ShopWiki, the Music Nation independent music community and an online invitation-only, high-fashion sample sale site called Gilt Groupe.

Although SAI has a high profile, Gilt is perhaps the most intriguing of AlleyCorp’s sites since it is essentially an American copy of a highly successful European version.

Using the Web’s speed and the allure of an exclusive, limited sale of designer clothes, along with an Amazon-like shipping system, is perhaps the perfect mix of offline and online. It also has to potential to move into other e-commerce categories.

Here’s my video interview with Ryan about all this and more:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus