Shiny Blog House Collapses, Tries To Return Under New Ownership

Would-be UK blog publishing super-house Shiny Media went in to administration on Friday due to growing debts, but a new ownership structure could see it rise again.

The company laid off half of its 17 staff in February, citing a tech advertising downturn. But Shiny has also been fighting worsening conditions since then. According to a memo sent by co-founder Chris Price to freelancers, and seen by paidContent:UK: “The truth is that trading was extremely difficult and the position of the bank with regards to renewing the overdraft were very unfavourable.

The assets – including all websites with the exception of Bag Lady and Shoewawa – have been bought by a new company, Shiny Digital, of which I am a shareholder,” Price wrote. According to Companies House, the new company counts as equal shareholders Shiny Trends (an outfit incorporated by Shiny co-founders Price, Ashley Norris and Katie Lee last year) and Cansas Digital Ventures (a new registered name for Shiny Media’s venture funder Brightstation since August 2007).

But the transition may not be easy – systems including Price’s email and mobile were “switched off by one of the minority shareholders in the business”, Price said, suggesting a disagreement over the new company’s configuration. Some freelancers haven’t been paid, but it seems administrators are trying to do so. Many Shiny blogs have not been updated since Friday, though one or two were still publishing news Monday and Tuesday.

Started in 2004, Shiny led the pack in the effort to build a UK counterpart to Gawker’s independent publishing empire, and is best known for its Shiny Shiny (girly gadgets), Tech Digest (technology) and Shoewawa (footwear) blogs, but had grown to publish blogs in several verticals and in the US.

In January 2007, it said it got $4.5 million from Brightstation, but it’s now thought that amount could have been far less. Norris, the original CEO, left in August 2008 to start his own publishing efforts, and had become CEO of male-centric publisher Anorak Media. Lee left in February at the same time as Shiny’s layoffs, which also involved content cutbacks and which Price said were ” about hunkering down and trying to survive”.

Only recently, Anorak, under Norris, acquired acquired his old football blog WhoAteAllThePies from Shiny, which had put it on hiatus. But Norris has also resumed blogging with Shiny itself recently.

Big lifestyle media brands still reign supreme with mainstream media consumers and independent blog publishers have struggled to replicate the success of Gawker, WeblogsInc or b5media…