Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka Is Back, but for How Long? Try “Two or Three Months.”

clint-escapesThere’s a small but raucous celebration breaking out in the geekier corners of the Internet right now because, the Web address shortener headed for death row, has had a stay of execution. But don’t get too excited:’s owner tells me he’s keeping it alive in order to sell the service–but says he has no interested buyers.

So, “the idea is that in two or three months, if nothing’s changed, we’ll have to revisit the decision,” says Eric Woodward, CEO of’s parent company, Nambu Networks.

That’s substantially less expansive than the language Woodward used in his blog post today, where he said “Nambu will keep operating going forward, indefinitely.” But it makes sense.

That’s because over the last couple of days, both on the Web and in conversations with me, Woodward has repeatedly explained why he can’t make a business out of Nambu. (In short, he says that Twitter has killed all competition by blessing rival address shortener; the guys, for their part, insist that their Twitter deal has been just a small part of their success.)

He’s also said that he’s been unable to find an “acceptable” buyer for the site up to now–though itself has made an offer that he deemed to low–and that during the hubbub of the last day or so, that hasn’t changed. “The interest that we’re getting is overwhelmingly from people who want to hijack the links,” he says.

Maybe there’s a buyer who sees value where both Woodward and his rejected suitors don’t. And obviously, if you’re trying to sell a business, it’s better to keep it running than to announce you’re shutting it down. But if you’ve already declared it dead once, reviving it is going to be a very tough task.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work