Interesting post at Brand Republic http://community.brandrepublic.com/blogs/gordons_republic/archive/2009/10/29/…
on whether a UK Huffington Post would work. Apparently a German one is doing very well, though it needs to be added that a Spanish attempt recently went under. It is clear from the feature that the HuffPo team took one look at the Uk and decided that a British version would be difficult to sustain.
The big problem a UK HuffPo would face would be funding. VCs very rarely seem to fund UK content based start ups unless they have some impressive tech on board. There have only been a handful over the years (Magicalia and Shiny are the two most high profile). I think this because established media is so strong in the UK and there’s also the BBC which is obviously hugely influential online. There have been some content companies which have pulled off impressive exits over the years but these have been in niche rather than mainstream markets.
The nearest thing we have to it is The First Post, which is owned by Dennis Publishing – http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/ – It is an interesting site that has some great content, but largely operates under the radar as so few people in the UK know of its existence. It is fine for UK heritage media to talk about HuffPo as it doesn’t compete with them for uk ads, however in general they won’t plug a rival.
Incidentally Shiny Media has now been split into two sections. Aigua Media has several of its fashion websites while Shiny Digital has its biggest fashion title, its two tech titles and the lifesytle sites. I resigned as CEO of the company in Oct 2007 after disagreements with the other founders and investors, but since August this year have been the CEO of Shiny Digital. After a quiet period several of our websites are now starting to show impressive growth.
I think there are great opportunities for independent new media in the UK, however things are certainly tougher for new media entrepreneurs than they are in the US.