Business Insider Might Not Make a Mint, But Henry Blodget Is a Hell of a Hype Man

Step up, step up and witness the Amazing Blodget in action!

YO. (Photo: TechCrunch )
YO. (Photo: TechCrunch )

File this one under ‘second acts in American lives’: This week, Business Insider honcho Henry Blodget gets the New Yorker treatment (subscription only, you cheap bastards), with a profile by none other than the bold-faced Ken Auletta. Sure, he’s still banned for life from the securities business (for now!), but being written up by Mr. Auletta ain’t too bad as a life consolation prize.

In Mr. Auletta’s estimation, the media mogul comes across like a bit of huckster. Take, for example, his spiritual presence in the newsroom: “When he talks, his arms swing and his voice rises, conveying the enthusiasm of an evangelist.” Early employee Peter Kafka came to a similar conclusion:  “He’s an excellent communicator,” adding, “He has a great Barnum in him.”

Ringmasters may bring the crowds, but you don’t want to end up with a briefcase full of snake oil, either:

“A senior Wall Street executive, asked if he trusted Blodget, said, ‘Of course not. This doesn’t mean he can’t have good ideas. But he’s a promoter.'”

You don’t say!

Mr. Auletta even lends his considerable powers of analysis to explain that absurd “I Rode in a Big Metal Sky Bird!” post:

“The post is consistent with a conscious decision that Blodget says he made at the outset ‘to put the fun back in business’ by making light of people in the news and of himself. ‘If we see something is funny, we don’t wait to see if the Pulitzer Committee likes it,’ he said. ‘We post it.'”

Mr. Auletta boils the company down to its essence: “If Bloomberg and Fleshbot had an illegitimate child, it might look something like Business Insider.”

Unfortunately, all that song and dance isn’t enough to turn Business Insider into a money-printing enterprise just yet, but you can’t have everything. According to the piece, Business Insider lost $3 million in 2012, though Mr. Blodget later added on Twitter that the company turned a small profit in Q1. (He also insisted that $3 million was an “investment,” not a loss.)

The company’s chairman, the ubiquitous Kevin Ryan, blames the loss on aggressive expansion and says the company will do $11 million this year in revenue this year. Mr. Ryan admitted, though: “That’s tiny. Ad rates are low. It’s tough to monetize.”

Still, we like to imagine William Randolph Hearst looking down with a gleam in his eye and a whisper: “Attaboy.”

Business Insider Might Not Make a Mint, But Henry Blodget Is a Hell of a Hype Man