She wrote faithfully home to mama
"Now mama don't you worry none"
From small things, mama
Big things one day come
~Bruce Springsteen, From Small Things
I learned on Friday in John Blossom's blog that Rafat Ali's publishing company, ContentNext, publishers of paidcontent.org (among others) was sold to Guardian News and Media in a deal reportedly worth a whopping $30M.
I have to admit I was excited for Rafat when I read this news because I first met him way back in 2003 at the first business blogging conference in Boston. At the time, he was just starting PaidContent.org and our conversation stimulated me to start blogging at at at time when most people had never heard of the concept. Today I'm writing post number 731 in this blog and it all began with that simple conversation. Here's what I wrote in that first entry called So it Begins:
While at the conference, I met Rafat Ali, owner, publisher, editor and chief bottle washer at paidcontent.org. Rafat is the prototypical blog publisher. Working alone in his apartment, he produces meaningful news on the paid content industry, an area I also cover extensively as a freelancer working for EContent Magazine. Rafat has freed himself from the constraints of typical corporate publishing by creating a publication where he is only answerable to himself and his readers. He has managed to cobble together a living in this fashion using the old-fashioned advertising model. I greatly admire his approach.
The event was sponsored by Jupiter Media and it was a really interesting time because blogs were at that time just beginning to be recognized as a business tool and there was an tangible tension in the room between the original bloggers who saw blogging as their personal sandbox and the new breed of business people like Rafat who were attempting to monetize the medium.
Well here we are just over five years later and Rafat has built his publishing company into a legitimate publishing force and for that, his company was purchased for a hefty sum on Friday. I'm really happy for him, but I'm also happy to see that, as Blossom pointed out in his piece, how far this type of publishing has come.
In a sense it almost seems ironic that his company was sold to a mainstream publishing group when you look at the roots of his publishing company, which was about escaping big media, but that only proves to me how far he took his vision. From small things indeed, big things have come, and I couldn't be happier for Ali and his team.