Growing Pains for b5media

b5media has been growing so fast lately that they have been having uptime issues with their servers. What I think is a vocal minority has issues with the b5 team and places blame squarely on the shoulders of management. b5media president, Jeremy Wright, said that b5 had to make a choice between paying their bloggers on time or fixing the hardware scalability issue now. b5 went with paying the bloggers on time and will deal with server issues in about a weeks time.

I, with my infinite blogging wisdom and 47 visitor per day average, fall somewhere in the middle, more so on the side of the b5 team. I agree that planning is key to any business and a decision to not fix a critical issue can be seen as a lack of management, however, I don’t think that anyone could have foreseen just how quickly b5media would grow and that that they would have this kind of traffic less than 2 months in. I love the fact that the b5 team didn’t rob Peter to pay Paul and that their bloggers will be paid on time. I think that they have shown that their bloggers come first and most companies that put their people first do very well.


  1. I think the readers have to come first. But I like your tact and tort on this article its a balancer to my ripping them.

  2. Robb Dunewood says:

    I absolutely agree that the readers have to come first. Fortunately for us, the democratic nature of the blogosphere will weed out the crappy blogs from the good ones including those less than desirable members of the big blog networks like b5media. I have lost track of the number of blogs that I used to read but have recently deleted from my bloglines account because the content seems like it is written more for the search engines than it is for me the reader.

  3. I imagine that must be a difficult choice to make, whether to pay your bloggers or upgrade your hardware. I think b5media made the right decision though (speaking as a blogger) … and I’m sure that the problem is a better one to have than its opposite – namely, having too little traffic to sustain itself.

  4. You would be amazed at how hard the decisions are to make.

    You can always tune or tweak a server, but you’re not going to be able to get your blogger’s trust back.

    When you’re in the planning stages you should plan for three times the volume you’d expect in terms of traffic, bandwidth and dasd.

  5. I don’t think such growing pain issues are such a problem, anything can be eventually smoothed out – but I think Jeremy shot himself in the foot when he ranted / preached (at his own blog) about needing to plan for scale and had a go at FeedLounge (he later backpeddaled).

  6. Martin, you stole my tagline for the story I’m going to write later tonight.



  7. sorry ;-)

    I await your post…

  8. I wonder if perhaps people have taken Jeremy’s words a little extremely.

    Our downtime this month has been around half a percent. We are approaching capacity in our busiest times. Of course half a percent is more downtime than we want to have and we’ll work to decrease it further – but it’s not like we’re constantly down.

    We’re not at a stage where we’re having serious conversations about ‘do we pay our bloggers or do we upgrade the server’ – the way it’s being reported sounds like we’re in dire straights. We will always pay our bloggers because the system we have in place ensures that what they get paid is in proportion to the income coming in.

    The conversations we have are more like – ‘lets get our bloggers paid up and then when we see what’s left or what we need to find from our own pockets we’ll buy a new server’. It’s more about timing and cash flow than anything else.

    Jeremy reported the downtime issue because part of b5′s journey is to share what we’re learning along the way – we do this because we believe that blogging is about sharing knowledge and we hope in doing so we and other learn more about starting a blog network. The problem with doing this is that everytime we do share what we’re learning and the experiences that we have – we get swooped upon by others wanting to point out the insufficiencies we have (which we’re pretty open about anyway). While we want to be transparent and open about what we’re learning I have to say that recent experience makes me wonder what the point is.

  9. Darren’s response is pretty succint. It wasn’t a matter of “either / or”, it was a matter of timing. First bloggers, then the server.

    The post was really just acknowledging there is an issue (like anybody didn’t know) and saying we’re working on it, and quickly.

  10. Robb,

    Sorry to post this off-topic, but I see no way to contact you on this page.

    Can we ask you to add us to you list of blog networks ?

  11. Both parties have their point but as a start-up company and being funded by high-income bloggers like Darren, I would have expected that some considerable amount of capital has been infused into b5media to be able to get another $299 server from ThePlanet.

    If the network owners don’t want to chip in a few hundred bucks just to get that 100% uptime, then it’s also an issue of trust. A downtime of 0.5% is still about 3.5 hours a month.

  12. Abe: It’d take more than a single server to get uptime to 100%. It’d take hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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