EveryBlock, the hyperlocal news and neighborhood data service acquired by MSNBC.com in 2009, closed abruptly today. NBC News, which took control of the site after ending its MSNBC.com joint venture with Microsoft, says it ultimately couldn’t come up with a viable model for the site.
The site broke the news to its users in a blog post this morning, titled, “Farewell Neighbors.” It reads, in part, “It’s no secret that the news industry is in the midst of a massive change. Within the world of neighborhood news there’s an exciting pace of innovation yet increasing challenges to building a profitable business. Though EveryBlock has been able to build an engaged community over the years, we’re faced with the decision to wrap things up.”
For more background, here is the text of GeekWire’s email interview on the topic this morning with Vivian Schiller, Senior VP & Chief Digital Officer with NBC News.
Why are you closing down the service? As we continue to grow and evolve the NBC News digital portfolio, we are focused on investing in content, products and platforms that play to our core strengths. The decision to shut down the site was difficult, but in the end, we didn’t see a strategic fit for EveryBlock within the portfolio.
Why didn’t the hyperlocal news model work for NBCNews? As anyone in the hyper local space can tell you — it’s a very tough business.
Also, why not sell the site or pass on to another owner, rather than just shut it down? We explored various options before deciding to close. Unfortunately, none of them ended up being viable. It was a tough call.
How many employees worked at everyblock, and what is happening to them (layoffs, new positions at NBCNews?) It’s a total of ten people. We’re working with them individually to see if there are other positions in the company that might be a fit. ###
The news was a surprise to founder Adrian Holovaty, who left EveryBlock last year. Holovaty writes in a blog post, “I had no idea NBC News would be shutting it down (in fact, at the time, I said I expected it would be around for a “long, long time”). The last time I talked with an NBC News representative, at a conference a few months after I left EveryBlock, he indicated that NBC was optimistic about the site’s future.”