RealTime IT News

The Industry Standard Banks on Predictions Market

This won't be your father's Industry Standard. The once-influential trade magazine that chronicled the rise of the Internet during the boom is returning with more modest ambitions. At its height, The Industry Standard employed more than 100 people, threw lavish parties at its downtown San Francisco offices and published a fat weekly magazine generating millions of dollars in revenue.

The end came abruptly in 2001, during the dot-com bust, when the magazine flamed out, joining many of the once high-flying startups it had covered.

Tech publisher IDG is relaunching the Standard this week but has no plans for a print edition. IDG originally bankrolled the Standard's launch 10 years ago and bought the remaining assets after the company behind it declared bankruptcy.

"IDG saw the business model at the time wasn't working, but the brand had value for a new kind of media platform. Doing print again was never a consideration," Derek Butcher, vice president and general manager of the Web site, told InternetNews.com.

A key feature of the site will be a predictions market. Registered users will be given $100,000 in virtual cash to place bets on events in the industry.

Ironically, an early example during a test phase was the likelihood of Microsoft buying Yahoo. Another example would be whether Apple will ship 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008.

Active users who see their virtual net worth go up will get a label like "Industry Expert," which will also appear when they comment on articles.

Butcher admits the site won't share many of the elements that made the magazine popular, and the brand may not mean anything to folks newer to the industry. "The new generation, like [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg, probably never heard of The Industry Standard, so we have to build up the awareness and respect," said Butcher.

After interviewing several candidates to be editor, Butcher said management concluded it didn't need one. "We're talking about a community site, and starting with an editor-in-chief seemed really old school," he said.

The site has a managing editor along with a handful of other editorial staff and will feature commentary and analysis by high-profile writers along with news stories from other IDG properties.

And while IDG celebrates the site's launch, the company has no plans to bring back the industry bashes thrown during the magazine's heyday. "They had definite value at the time. There was a lot of networking and people did do business," Butcher said. "But it was to an extreme. Way too much money was spent."