The question we always get from people asking after our former colleague Dan Gillmor is: “How does he plan to make money?” Dan left the Mercury News this month, to start up his grassroots media idea — and we’re sure Dan is trying to figure out an answer to that question.
His plans are still under wraps for now, and from his blog it’s apparent he’s trying to lower expectations. In his posting, Dan says he’s been given seed money from Mitch Kapor and from Omidyar Network, the community-building venture fund founded by Pierre Omidyar. Anyone familiar with those two sources knows they don’t necessarily search for billion dollar homerun returns — unlike mainstream Sand Hill Road venture capital firms. Kapor and Omidyar are really out to support good causes. At the same time, they want their projects to be sustainable — and thus profitable. But for now at least, don’t believe the rumors we also heard about Dan soliciting money from the big-name Mayfield Fund. True, he was seen in the offices over there, but he was apparently only visiting an East Coast media friend who was there for the day — so it had nothing to do with seeking funding. Here’s the latest: Dan has put up his shingle at Kapor’s San Francisco’s offices, where Creative Commons and several other ventures are based. Gillmor’s company, named Grassroots Media Inc, is renting office space there. Next up, he’ll be talking Jan. 26 in San Jose at the annual meeting of the editorial writers from Knight-Ridder newspapers (Knight-Ridder is parent of the Mercury News). He’s sure to be provocative. We’ll report on what we hear.