As you guys know, especially those of you who have been around for awhile, we've been pretty proud to be an independent site since 1996. We were one of the first fan's sites to come along - they didn't even call it blogging then (and we never really have for that matter).
As things grew though, it has become more and more difficult to sustain, primarily because, well, now it costs money. We didn't have that worry for a few years in the beginning as various kind souls offered us free space. Eventually though we got to the point where the traffic was hard for people to carry for free and we had to find ways to sustain it.
Most of that was you guys kicking in a little here, a little there, and helping us to keep things afloat. Every fund raiser we ever had has been an incredibly humbling experience.
Things changed though with the economic downturn. We had managed to get enough advertising to not do fundraising for a few years, but the recession knocked that revenue stream down by about 80% or so. Your generosity when we held fundraisers again really made a big difference, but the stark reality is that people haven't been able to afford to give as much, and we completely understand. It's not an easy time for many people and while we know a lot of you value this site, it's basically on the side of the non-essential.
So we were faced with some looming economic realities which reminded us of when the Daniels family decided to sell the News & Observer in Raleigh. They could have kept it going, but they realized that circumstances had changed. So they made a hard decision.
Our decision was a lot smaller but no less hard, yet push has come to shove. So when we received a serious and credible offer for the site, we had to consider it and decided to accept it.
We will be joining forces with SBNation. The economic reasons are pretty clear, but there is more to it than that.
We could have always joined Scout or Rivals or other networks, and were courted and offered a lot of money to do it. We never did because we didn't like the way they ran things (a lawsuit later validated our concerns in the case of Scout) or their hard sell. We could get by on our own and so we did, albeit for a lot less.
When Jim Bankoff of SBNations contacted us, we explained how we had always done things here, that we had built up a community of people who were loyal to us and to whom we were loyal as well. One of the main reasons we never took the money and ran was you guys. You've always been there for us - always. No one will ever know just how much support and love we got from the people who hang out here. You've really become family and you don't treat family like that. Turning down large cash offers wasn't always easy but we never felt good about taking it either.
This is different. Jim listened to us and understands that between us we have built something unique and interesting here. We made sure that we could protect the sense of DBR, that it would remain open, that we would maintain editorial control, and that though a lot of people talk about a community-driven site, blah, blah, blah, here it has actually happened.
As much as possible, we've protected that and Jim has been very understanding about what makes the site work. At some point, there will be a redesign, but that's overdue anyway. Otherwise, other than advertising being taken over by SBNation, things won't change that much except for some benefits like access to more resources.
The good news is that we've found a way to ensure that DBR isn't going to be another casualty of the recession. We've been here for nearly 14 years, and we'll be around for hopefully a good bit longer. There's a bit of sadness but there's also optimism and most of all profound gratitude for everything you have done for us. This has been the most serendipitous and wonderful journey one could imagine. And thankfully, it's not over yet.
Personal note from Julio:
One of the big reasons why DBR developed as it did is the extraordinary personality of Mike Hemmerich. He has always been incredibly decent and generous. A lot of the spirit which has infused this site is directly due to his character and willingness to extend himself to others without reservation. I was deeply lucky to meet him when we first corresponded about Duke basketball, way back in the days of Prodigy, where the first genesis of DBR was sent out on paper. He has become a friend and someone I respect immensely and being partners with him sets a very high standard for anyone else.
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