Automatic Media was a web content site in 2000 to 2001.
It was announced on July 9, 2000 that the founders of Suck.com and Feed.com had raised $4 million in fresh venture capital financing from Lycos Ventures LP for their new project. Automatic Media's first acquisition was Alt.Culture, an online encyclopedia of alternative culture focused primarily on internet fads. The formation of Automatic Media allowed all of the individual sites to utilize common advertising sales forces, technologies and administrative resources. The sites themselves maintained distinctive brand names and editorial voices, but heavily cross-linked and advertised for the partner sites. In January 2001, Automatic Media announced its first original venture, Plastic.com. Plastic's philosophy was to have extremely low operational costs by running entirely on user-contributed stories. Its original staff was only four people.
Less than a year after its foundation, Automatic Media's subsidiaries shocked readers with the announcement that they were declaring bankruptcy, citing "an inability to secure additional financing". Feed and Suck both announced that they were firing their staffs, and would no longer produce content. It was also announced that Plastic would continue with a skeleton staff working pro bono, although its fate was uncertain until bought by one of suck's original founders Carl Steadman.
Automatic Media's echoed the failure of many other web content sites. The failure of these sites disproved the common notion that the World Wide Web make it easy for independent media sites to publish and distribute content for cheap compared with the costs of putting out print magazines. Combined with the questions raised by other dot-com collapses, investors were now questioning whether advertising alone could sustain the enormous and often underestimated costs of producing and hosting original material.
- "Pioneering Websites Join Forces" - a zdnet article on the formation of Automatic Media
- A MetaFilter Thread on the rumors of Automatic's closure
- A News.com article on Automatic Media's collapse
- A Salon.com article on the end of Suck and Feed (Editorial by Scott Rosenberg; audio version)
- A USA Today article on the history of Automatic Media