2015-06-01

A Bad Domain Name and Branding, Poor Web Design, Doomed Re/Code

"Starting January 2, [2014] we’ll have an all-new site and suite of conferences, with a different name and Web address, run as an independent company with great investors and partners. It’s likely that you’ll hear a lot about it."--Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher - AllThingsD (Dec 31, 2013)
Last week, big shot tech journalists, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, threw in the towel:
"ReCode, the news website led by the veteran journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, is being acquired by Vox Media ... The all-stock deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed."--NYTimes.com
In other words, Kara and Walt saved face by succumbing to a no-cash deal, terms undisclosed. Vox Media got what it wanted--the "Code Conferences" and talent--for little or nothing. What happened?

Domain Mondo, alone, called this one early, on January 1, 2014--

 And Domain Mondo posted Dumb and Dumber, Recode dot Net? on January 2, 2014.

And later on March 11, 2014, Domain Mondo, ironically, contrasted the poor branding and domain name strategy of Re/Code with Ezra Klein's (then) new site, in a post titled: Ezra Klein, Vox, Vox.com, great brand and domain name strategy. Vox.com is owned by the one and same Vox Media that just bought Re/Code.

So how could two experienced, well-financed, well-connected tech journalists fail so quickly after leaving the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD?

Domain Mondo was going to explain and post further on the Re/Code saga, but blogger Bob Lefsetz got to this first (excerpt below). Also note that Bob is not in the domain name industry, but is very much in the music and media sectors--

"It had a lousy name, a dot net address and a terrible website. Sure, Mossberg and Swisher were starting all over, but they could have given themselves a fighting chance! “AllThingsD” was a brand, never underestimate the difficulty in building one and the power in an established one ... Let’s start with the number one deal-killer, ReCode’s site. It’s like they never surfed the net before. It wasn’t only me, everybody hated it. It was unfathomable. Didn’t Steve Jobs say design was paramount? That usability was key? Didn’t Walt and Kara interview him? Did none of his message penetrate?... As for the name… What does it mean? Either your moniker has to indicate what you’re about, like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, or it must relate to nothing, like Shazam or Corolla. ReCode, what is that? ... And dot net? Is it Amazon.net? Google.net? Type recode into Safari and you’ll get Google results, you won’t automatically go to the site, as you will with Amazon and the rest of the .coms ..." --Bob Lefsetz, read more at the Lefsetz Letter 

Walt and Kara: you should have listened to Domain Mondo.

See also: ReCode To Vox and Newsonomics: The Vox/Recode deal - Nieman Journalism Lab and A Series of Wholly Unrelated Observations About Vox Media's Acquisition of Recode - The Awl

Caveat Emptor!


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