Goodbye Download Squad

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 12, 2011

I sometimes cannot believe the decisions that major Internet companies make. The latest company to join the ranks is AOL with the decision to close down the Download Squad technology blog. Download Squad was one of the two blogs that I followed closely ever since I started running my own tech news site, the other was Lifehacker.

Download Squad concentrated more on tech and less on non-tech related news like Lifehacker does. The blog was on my daily reading schedule and I came to enjoy the posts of many of the blog's regular authors.

It was also often an interesting race to get the news out before they did, which I more often than not did not succeed in.

But it is not only the Download Squad website that will be discontinued, will be discontinued as well. The site has an Alexa rank of sub 4000 which is an indicator for lots and lots of traffic.

You may remember that AOL moved the Download Squad from their original domain name to a subdomain. That move in itself felt strange at that time but it was better than losing the site completely.

It is not clear why the sites have been closed, the post over at the Download Squad does not reveal a single reason.

The most likely reason is that the advertising revenue of the sites did not match the exceptions of the shareholders.
Could also have something to do with a change in management after the Huffington Post aquisition. But those are just guesses, no one knows and it is likely staying that way.

What stands is that this is a sad day for tech interested users like me, and many of you. Goodbye Download Squad, many of us will miss you in the year's to come.


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  1. Kaixi said on April 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Hey guys, DLS writers have just launched a new blog:

    1. Alec said on April 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      I like that new browserscene blog, thank you Kaixi!!

  2. kalmly said on April 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    :( VERY sorry to see the end of DLS. It has been one of my a.m. stops for as long as they’ve existed.

  3. browngeek said on April 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for this. I was a big fan of DLS as well and it was on my RSS feed list.

    I’m quite surprised it got shut down and wonder what other tech sites under AOL’s remit will end up folding.

    The whole Huff / AOL thing is going to be a mess.

    I don’t know how the likes of Engadget are going to last under the new ownership, especially after their recent departures at the top.

    As for Techcrunch, it seems, at present that it is quite independent, but that may also change in the future.

    What I do find quite strange though, is the lack of reporting about the end of DLS. I am very surprised that only a few places have actually picked up and run with the story. Not surprised that none of the AOL tech sites haven’t made a comment about it though.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

      They say about 30 of the 60 or so sites got canned.

  4. Bob Smtih said on April 13, 2011 at 5:59 am

    So… willl all of my starred Items on google reader disappear?

  5. g... said on April 13, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Wonder who will step up to the plate. DLS is on my daily reads (as is ghacks!).

  6. rob said on April 13, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I just came here from recomendation in the comments on Download Squad’s fairwell post. I like it and adding this site to my RSS.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Rob welcome to Ghacks, enjoy your stay ;)

  7. Mystique said on April 13, 2011 at 12:32 am

    AOL’s magic touch strikes again!

    Pretty much when AOL or Corel touches something its all down hill from there.

  8. Steven Finch said on April 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    This is a real shame. Im a big fan of Download Squad. It seems like AOL is lowing their way and just now focusing on the Huffington Post and pushing Hyper Local.

    Possibly Techcrunch is also a reason these sites are leaving. Techcrunch control tech industry news.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      But Techcrunch caters to a totally different audience, they have industry news and Download Squad was software, web browser and service news. More or less like Ghacks but with a lesser focus on software.

      Huffington Post, I have never been to, no idea what the site is about and not interested in finding out.

  9. SFdude said on April 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Will the old posts of DS,
    still be available online?

    I have bookmarks to many of their posts…

    Will the bookmarks to DS now break,
    and lead to a “404 Page not Found”?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      According to the blog post everything will stay as is, there will be no new posts though.

  10. Howard Pearce said on April 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Was one of my favorite RSS feeds I relied on.

  11. Adam Dempsey said on April 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    If this was last week I would of sworn it was an Aprils Fools joke!

    Really don’t understand why AOL are doing this, surely it was a big money maker for them?

    1. Sebastian said on April 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      I’m not sure if I’m replying to the right comment thread! I hope so.

      Anyway —

      Yeah, there was always issues monetizing Download Squad. I’m not entirely sure why (we writers were totally insulated from the advertising department at AOL) — but for whatever reason, I guess DLS didn’t make enough money for AOL.

      It does seem odd to simply shut us down, tho’, rather than trying another approach. To be honest, though, I doubt much thought was put into whether we were being shut down or not. Arianna _had_ to shut down a bunch of sites, and we didn’t make the cut, I guess :)

      Thanks for the post, Martin! We’re flattered.

      Oh, and if you want to follow some of the Download Squad writers, check out Browser Scene:

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 15, 2011 at 7:07 am

        Sebastian thanks for commenting. We “tech writers” have to stick together. This decision by AOL has once again convinced me that my decision to stay independent has been a good one. Sure, I do not have the backing of a high-traffic and authoritative link network behind the site, but I can make my own decisions.

        Have you tried to ask to buy the Download Squad or Switched from AOL? They surely would not want a lot for it, or? Maybe we could all put some money in the pot and buy the site, haha, that would be fun.

        Anyway, good luck with whatever you do now. I have already started to monitor the new site, even though it is less broad than the Download Squad.

    2. Adam Dempsey said on April 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm

      But I guess in comparison to what they paid for that it would be pennies they get back

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm

        They probably made a calculation and came to the conclusion that selling the site would reduce the end price significantly, lawyers and such involved, that it would not make sense. What I do not understand is that they do not keep the site running.

        Lets assume they pay $50 for each article and publish five articles per day (I think it is a lot less). That would be 5*50*365 for the year for writers. Plus another $3000 or so for a solid server. Total running costs per year: 94250 Dollars. Lets further assume they get 2 million uniques per month, and 4 million pageviews. They surely get an eCPM of $10 with their special ad rates and such, but lets assume the ecpm is $5. That would be (4000000/1000)*5 for the monthly earnings of 20000 Dollars. That times 12 is 240000 Dollars minus the costs of roughly 100k is a net profit of 140000 Dollars. Not much for AOL but still highly profitable. With $10 ecpm it would be a net profit of around 350k per year. Sure you need an accountant for that but the working hours should be relatively low per year.

        Not to forget that web properties increase their value as well with every year of existence.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

        The site should be profitable, and even if it returned enough money to pay for the donuts and coffee of the AOL executives ;)

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Adam I’m not sure about the money, as those corporate sites tend to have less ads but higher payouts for the ads. I’d say it was more or less peanuts for AOL. May be wrong though.

      1. Adam Dempsey said on April 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm

        Surprised they didn’t at least try selling the site, could of at least made something back on it!

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm

        Yeah that would be my point as well. Depending on current traffic levels and such, they could surely make a million+ from the site easily, a lot more if they find an interested buyer. I mean, how much did they pay for the HufPost, 380 million? That’s insane.

  12. Roman ShaRP said on April 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I hate shareholders. They make a whole world mess for their bloody money.

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