Like many of you, I learned today that Larry Jordan is folding his company. This was sad news, because he was the source of much good advice, although I have to guiltily admit that I can't recall actually paying for any of his services.
I'm curious about the reasons behind this decision.
Although I don't know the details, two apparent factors resonate for me: financial and personal burnout. "Watch the 'nut'" has always been a mantra for me. (The 'nut' being recurrent monthly expenses, from Adobe subscriptions to office rent to loan payments.) In a services business, personal burnout can also be debilitating.
We hear a lot about success, not only in this forum but all across the WWW. What we don't hear a lot about is failure (though I hear plenty of scuttlebutt). It's a valid topic, as avoiding failure has always been a cherished ambition of many of us.
To be honest, Lynda.com is the gold standard in training and advice. They have such a wealth of working talent across a broad spectrum of many industries now. Plus the purchase by LinkedIn brought a whole new wealth of funds and knowledge that little guys will not be able to compete with.
I was hopeful to start something with WalterBiscardi.com in the training space, but people just don't want to subscribe to small sites as much anymore. Folks like MixingLight.com are the rare exception with three insanely talented artists putting incredible information up there each week.
The realities of thousands of hours of free tutorials, good and bad, on YouTube / Vimeo along with powerhouses like Lynda make it very difficult to rely on training as your sole income source.
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I don't think people understand the scope of Lynda.com. Maybe the $1.5 billion purchase by LinkedIn offered a clue. LOL Seriously, the stuff she does in our business is the barest tip of the iceberg.
Even before LinkedIn, that company was being driven by over 100 full-time salespeople, pushing that product out. I can only imagine how big they'd gotten in the lead-up to LinkedIn thinking "Hey, if we spend a billion and a half dollars on Lynda, we're going to make a LOT more than that in return," and I actually can't imagine how big they're going to get from here.
So Larry's content may have been gold. I know for a fact that yours is, Walter!!! But it takes muscle to push it out there, on a scale that most people can't comprehend.
I look at other billion-ish dollar companies out there that started, like Lynda, as scrappy individuals, and the story is the same. Shutterstock was founded by Jon Oringer in 2003, now with a market cap of just over $1 billion: 500 employees, most of them in sales.
Videoblocks is the one to watch next -- they got to 1 million clips in their library in a year, compared to the previous record of 6 years by Shutterstock. Started by another scrappy, self-funded individual, Joel Holland in 2009, and I think they "only" have 75 people or so (am I remembering that right? something like that)....but they're growing fast, and doing an awful lot of things right. But to get to the next level, they're going to need to at least double their staff, and I bet they will. I wouldn't be surprised if they did it before the end of the year. Just guessing, but I see those guys playing to win, and to win, you need a big team.
Stock media is different than training of course, but my point is the same. You used to be able to show up with the goods as a trainer, have a nice website, a strong social media presence, go to user groups and trade shows, and have people make their way to you. No more.
It's the same issue that so many people here have identified, writ large. Competing against free, but unlike, us, ALSO competing against the well-funded behemoths who are orders of magnitude larger. Larry was going up against Lynda, the COW, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, every user group, fcp.co, on and on and on -- and he kind of acknowledged that this was the issue. His team couldn't generate lift.
My diagnosis is that the team was way too small...not that there mightn't have been a million other things, but man, Walter, I think you're exactly right. As hard as it is to make a living as a solo or small team producer, where you're mostly competing against free or nearly free alternatives, I can't even imagine how hard it is to compete as as a small or solo trainer against BOTH "free" AND billion dollar empires.
[walter biscardi] "Folks like MixingLight.com are the rare exception with three insanely talented artists putting incredible information up there each week."
I think there's a nugget in there with "three." RippleTraining has been expanding as well and, if you watch their Virtual User Group (which I believe is actually from PixelCorp) with each expansion there's been new trainers. Perhaps Larry was doing too much himself.
[walter biscardi] " Lynda.com is the gold standard in training and advice."
Perhaps the problem with Larry's business model is that the bigger subscription model overwhelmed his smaller business subscription model. RippleTraining is still buy and paid upgrade.
Sorry to see Larry Jordan close. There's never an edit session where I don't need to Google the answer to a problem I'm having with FCP, Larry often came up and he was my default click. However, I always got my answers before needing to subscribe. I don't know how you can monetize training unless the person wants to deep dive and really learn, such as with MixingLight. There are too many free alternatives.
This interwebby thing is a double edge sword in terms of revenue. Back in the day I used to make good money selling "how to" videos, sold on VHS of many subjects, sold mainly through classifieds in the back of paper magazines and 60 second spots, from How to Groom Your Golden Retriever, pin striping your car, to various fishing techniques, etc. Before this field became so crowded it was easier to have a given subject matter to yourself and make money on it.
BTW, I get Lynda for free through my local library membership!
I asked this in the other thread already, but if you guys can see it in your hearts to help Larry out and make a purchase from his online catalog this week, I'd take it as a personal favor. His training helped me get into using FCPX, which in turn helps me keep my job. Larry's tutelage has helped thousands of people in this business for many years, so if you can help him out this one time as he transitions, I think karma would be kind to you later.