Robert Scoble Departs Fast Company

How bad is the economy? Even social media poster boy and Internet celebrity Robert Scoble is now unemployed. Today TechCrunch and other outlets reported (and Scoble confirmed on his own blog) that he is leaving Fast Company after less than a year.

Separated at birth: Scoble and Hoffman?

Separated at birth: Scoble and Hoffman?

Scoble was hired in 2008 to run Fast Company TV where he produced long-form videos of himself interviewing CEOs and technologists from start-ups. Fast Company TV was sponsored by Seagate (for allegedly $1 million annually). Fast Company decided to pull the plug on Scoble after Seagate decided against re-upping the sponsorship due to the financial meltdown. Scoble, however, will continue to write a monthly column for the magazine.

The Valley Wag, the Silicon Valley gossip blog, has a vicious post about Scoble’s demise and blames his downfall on aligning with too many of the wrong people at both Fast Company and Seagate. But consider the source. I’ve met and worked with Scoble a few times. He’s a genuinely nice guy – and willing to engage with just about anyone. He’s as awkward in person as he is on his videos, which I suppose is part of the charm.

I used to joke with co-workers that Scoble is a cyborg – half man, half machine. Every time I saw him, Scoble was plugged into something and having a conversation with him always happened in snippets because he was constantly being distracted by his mobile phone, his laptop, or some other device. It’s why he’s the perfect Twitter user – conversing in rapid bursts rather than engaging fully.

I was never a big fan of Fast Company TV. I found Scoble’s videos to be a challenge to get through. He’s not a trained journalist, so his interview style meandered and he let his subjects basically say whatever they wanted without the risk of being called out on the carpet (think of Scoble’s style as stream of consciousness – without the intellectual trappings). But worst of all the videos were boring. That’s a high crime in today’s day and age. It was also a surprise. Scoble pushed the creative envelope in blogging and social media – but he never quite got the hang of video.

One wonders if his videos suffered because he was so overextended blogging, traveling, Twittering, Friend Feeding, and speaking at events. In any case, it’s unlikely Scoble will be forced to resort to government cheese and soup kitchens. A social media pundit of his celebrity will end up landing someplace – probably rather quickly. I hope he returns to his blogging roots, where he excels.

In any case, here’s wishing him the best of luck.

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