Who Made the Biggest Media Moves in 2009?

by | Dec 14, 2009

My take on some of the biggest splashes made by media companies in 2009. Take fair warning, this list is completely subjective and purely my take on a vast landscape of evolving media. The list is also not a “who made the most money” but more of a “who made a big impact or a big move”.

Answer the poll in the sidebar to let me know what media company you think made the biggest splash in 2009.


Facebook triples in size from 125 million users to 350 million. They took major steps toward becoming more open and “twitter-like“. The status stream became the focus of the site. Real-time is a major focus. They purchased FriendFeed. They took several steps throughout the year to improve their search ability, open themselves up to Google and Bing for search, and to encourage users to open up their profiles to search. While Twitter is currently the home of real time and social search, Facebook has to potential to take over that title if as little as 10% of their user base opens up their profiles.


Twitter decuples in size (10X) growing from 4 million users to 40 million users in 2009. How many of those accounts are real people using the service is another conversation, but it is hard to deny that Twitter has seen extreme growth in 2009, with hordes of celebrities, famous athletes, and businesses all investing in the platform. CNN and Ashton Kutcher battled for 1 million followers. Oprah and Ellen got on board. Dell made some cash. Twitter has gone from unknown internet geek town to a pop culture haven and breaking news winner.


Google – Google continues to grow the passive social network of the web by emphasizing their profiles in search results and integrating profiles with other Google services. Google Wave launches to much fanfare. While Wave has not even begin to make a big splash outside of it’s initial buzz, the possibilities are very cool. Google also made big plays with the Android mobile phone operating system, Chrome browser, and the Chromium operating system. And they made a massive play in GPS turn by turn directions by offering a free alternative to premium turn by turn direction services. Maps are increasing becoming a media platform because of Google, and of course an advertising platform.


Comcast, which already serves a quarter of all U.S. households that pay for TV, would gain control of the NBC broadcast network, the Spanish-language Telemundo and about two dozen cable channels, including USA, Bravo and Syfy. It also would have regional sports networks, Universal Pictures and theme parks. They have already proven themselves as an innovator online with a strong social media presence and especially an early and consistent use of Twitter as a customer service tool. If Government allows things to move forward, the implications are interesting. Movies might move to cable, the internet, and cell phones more quickly.


Foursquare splashed onto the scene at SXSW as yet another of many location based social networks. Unless you were in one of the few cities Foursquare launched in, the buzz was pretty quiet for them until summer. A writeup about Why Yelp and All Retail Should Support Foursquare put the network on the map for many tech folks. Their funding round of $1.35 million dollars really allowed them to pick up the pace and they have since really streamlined the scaling process, growing from 10 cities in March to 100 cities today, and rumors that the next expansion could be everywhere. Reminds me of the early Facebook expansion. If nothing else, Foursquare feels like the first location based network with some real momentum.


Postrank (formerly AideRSS) refocused their company on their Postrank technology this year. For those that have not used is, Postrank,  true to it’s name, measures a blog post’s social engagement, which includes blog comments and links, Internet bookmarks, clicks, page views, and activities from social network services such as Twitter, Digg, and FriendFeed. They assess all the activity around a blog and it’s individual posts, determining how much attention and interaction it generates. Later in the year they launched some pretty fancy analytics that is a pretty powerful tool set for anyone investing in blogging. Keep an eye on these guys.


Ning is one of the quieter social networks on the web since it is in fact a networks of smaller niche social networks. WordPress is launching an open source solution to making your own social network, BuddyPress. But, Ning still remains the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to launch a social network. This year they reached the milestone of 1 million social networks on the Ning platform and for good measure they also removed any “adult content” social networks. They remain a great resource, with a massive membership, and a built in monetization model of site upgrades and built in advertising.

Other notable media winners this year:

  • Hulu – Became the second most popular video site, Added ABC, announced move to payment model
  • Boxee – open source, Beta launch
  • BreakingNews – becomes major breaking news source, sold to MSNBC
  • CNN – buys @CNNbrk, Youtube debates, Holigrams, iReport
  • Netflix – Integration into Xbox and Playstation, open API, moving toward online only distribution models

Who would you add to the list? What media companies impressed you in 2009?





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