Survive, Adapt, Repeat: IT Jungle Shutting Down Non-AS/400 Newsletters
September 15, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Some stories are harder to write than others, and this one will go down as one of the most difficult stories that I have had to do in a long time. No life, no career, and no company is without its risks and challenges, and every person or organization has to continually assess what is going on around them and deal with what is while keeping an eye on whatever dreams and plans they might have. And so it has been for myself and my team with regard to the IT Jungle.
My team and I came together in our new home, then called Midrange Server, back in the summer of 2001, when the dot-com boom went bust at the same time as our former publishing employer in the AS/400 market closed its doors and unemployed us all. It was a bad time for all of us. I started this company two days before my son, Henry, was born–actually, restarted it, since I had taken a run at publishing AS/400, Unix, and Windows newsletters on my own between 1996 and 1998 and failed. The second time around, with Midrange Server, we built a strong and highly regarded stack of AS/400 publications, and we tried to expand on that success in 2004 with our relaunch as IT Jungle with a serious commitment to Linux, Windows, and Unix platforms; in 2006, we added a mainframe newsletter to try to cover all the bases. The plan was simple: replicate the success we had with our Four Hundred series of newsletters in these other markets. While we did great content in our new newsletters, the truth is that we were taking on some pretty big, established players in these other markets (as is the case with Linux and Windows) or we were chasing markets that turn out to be not so healthy (in terms of advertising sales, not platform sales, as is the case with Unix and mainframe platforms). After more than five years of chasing these markets, I made a decision three weeks ago–while I was sick with strep throat and bronchitis during what was supposed to be my vacation–to take a different tack in the market.
Effective last week, I shut down publication of The Linux Beacon, The Windows Observer, and The Unix Guardian and putting Big Iron in stasis mode as Hesh Wiener, my mentor and one of the contributors to that newsletter, considers taking over that newsletter himself. Effective today, September 15, I am taking a position as Systems Editor over at British IT publisher The Register, which just so happened to be looking for a smart-alek server and operating system editor on the same week that I was looking for a way to better capitalize on the substantial amount of writing I do in the Linux and Unix areas.
Important Note: IT Jungle and its owner, Guild Companies, is in no way, shape, or form cutting back on its commitment to the AS/400 market. In fact, now that the company’s employees are no longer trying to chase other markets, we can double-down our efforts in this good market that has paid our salaries all these years. So subscribers to The Four Hundred, Four Hundred Stuff, Four Hundred Guru, and Four Hundred Monitor, fear not. We are committed to serving you. No one is taking a pay cut here, no one has lost their jobs, we are not cutting back on content–none of that nonsense. It is steady as she goes for the Four Hundred stack, and we will now have some capacity to do more things that are hopefully useful for both our readers and our advertisers. We will be making some changes to our site to make it better, too. We are not changing the IT Jungle domain name, where the Four Hundred stack and the whole newsletter archive will continue to reside. (You never know when you might need to bring a newsletter back from the attic. Trust me.)
From my point of view, life will not be all that different, and in fact, it will be something of a return to normalcy for me. I have had two jobs–one writing about legacy IBM platforms and then another one talking about everything else–for most of my writing career, which is now in its 19th year. The abnormal condition for me is to have put all of my eggs in the IT Jungle basket for the past year in the wake of Computergram, a British licensee of our material and a long-time employer of mine, outsourcing my job (and the job of its entire editorial staff) to India. From the very beginning, after the dot-com bust, I wanted to do something like IT Jungle. But I always knew the odds were very long indeed for success, especially on the limited budget that we had to launch new products. We took our shot, and while we did not fail, we did not succeed either. In this current economy, which smells a lot like 1987 and 2000 to me, I cannot wait for that success, and neither can my employees, who are second to none, who have put their sweat and brains into this as much as I have, and whom I love dearly. It is time for me to take the rock off my back and theirs. My load is probably not going to get lighter writing wise, with two jobs, but I will be able to focus on writing instead of trying to build a non-AS/400 business and the load my employees need to carry will, I hope, get easier and more interesting as they expand into new areas, and this is important to me. We will be better able to serve those AS/400 readers and advertisers who support us and be more creative in what we do, and this matters, too.
I would like to thank the readers who subscribed to our Linux, Windows, Unix, and mainframe newsletters and supported us as well as the many, many readers who wandered in each day from the Web. We are proud of the content that we delivered, and hope you found it useful in your careers. I would also like to thank the advertisers who supported these products and derived benefit from that support; would that we could have built a larger list and really taken on CNET, ComputerWorld, Internet.com, WindowsITPro, and other sites whose platform coverage is–how shall I put this?–weak as hell. And everyone–readers, advertisers, and IT Jungle employees and contributors alike–owes a big shout out to my loving wife, Elizabeth, who never once called me crazy for chasing the IT market like an intense border collie trying to run down and herd a tractor-trailer rig on a winding Irish road. She has supported me every step of the way, and her white-shoe law firm gave my family the economic maneuvering room for my team to build a solid company based on AS/400 products and then attempt to extend it well beyond that scope–something we could not have done had she not had my back.
For those of you who read our Four Hundred stack and who also perused our Linux, Windows, Unix, and mainframe coverage, I will be putting pointers to my Register content on the IT Jungle homepage and inside the AS/400 newsletters once I get settled in. For those of you who were subscribed to this non-AS/400 content, you now know where to find me. See you over there on the other side of the pond. Cheers, ears.