August 31, 2006

Mad Penguin sold to iTech Media

Author: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

iTech Media announced today that it was acquiring Mad Penguin, a popular Linux and open source online magazine, for an undisclosed sum.

Adam Doxtater, founder and chief technology editor for Mad Penguin, says that this isn't the first time since the site was founded in January 2001 that he has been approached about selling Mad Penguin, but this time the price and timing was right. "Well, the sale price was higher of course, but the important factor here was timing more than anything else. iTech caught me at a time when I really needed a break, so it worked out for the better."

Doxtater also says that selling Mad Penguin will afford more research and development time for a new site he's planning that will "merge OSS and entertainment into one entity." Doxtater is reluctant to disclose a great deal of detail about the site lest "the copy machines will kick into high gear," but says "we want to bring something to open source media that it really lacks: shine.

"I believe I said it once before, but across the board I think open source media lacks anything truly endearing. I'm a big entertainment guy ... I really am. I see the value of entertainment, and nobody has it right now. It's what makes the world turn. Having material out there that is informative is one thing. That's always good, but having entertainment value is the key."

What will happen to Mad Penguin?

Gundeep Hora, CEO of iTech Media, says that he realizes that readers will be concerned about the changeover, but "we are not going to make any significant changes editorially." He did say that he's spoken to Doxtater about writing for Mad Penguin in the future, though they can't confirm that Doxtater will be writing for the site due to his busy schedule. Hora said that some of the other existing contributors would continue with the site.

While Hora says that the content won't change much, he does plan to make cosmetic changes to Mad Penguin and increase the frequency of publication. Right now, the site averages four or five new articles per month. Hora says that he'd like to scale that up to two or three per week, and eventually as many as two articles per day.

Hora also says that there will be opportunities for cross-posting Mad Penguin content with other iTech sites such as CoolTechZone and OSWeekly.com.

Doxtater says that he shares his audience's concerns about the site moving to new hands. "That's a given. It's like handing over your child to new parents. You wonder if they will bring it up right, present it to the world right. We've created a brand here, and that's one of my main concerns ... will the brand survive?" Still, he says that he believes iTech "is aware of our brand and how we do things.... I believe they'll do just fine, and I wish them the best of luck with it."

Hora did warn that readers might briefly see a bit of a site slowdown as they move Mad Penguin to their servers. He also intends to migrate Mad Penguin to the Mambo content management system as part of the eventual redesign.

Doxtater's mystery site

While Doxtater is keeping his new venture under wraps, it shouldn't be too long before we see the results. Doxtater says that he's not sure when the new site will launch, but "we might see something before Christmas."

Why the delay? Doxtater says they want to make sure they get it "exactly right."

"Mad Penguin did very well, but we made mistakes along the way, and I guess that's hard to avoid, but we also learn from our mistakes. Most of us do, anyway, and when we made them we took notes. I know what not to do this time around."

In addition, Doxtater says that he wants to keep the site "as completely open as possible, using open source software to run the site from top to bottom." Unfortunately, "what we want to do is not readily available in a cute little package, so we'll need to do some recruiting to get exactly what we need built."

In the end, Doxtater promises that it will be worth the wait. "If it's not, then I'll run bare-ass naked through the middle of Manhattan at rush hour. I might need bail money. Be ready for that."

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