Updated: UK's largest indie blog network Shiny Media goes into administration

Is the UK’s experiment with large blog networks over? It is now.

It’s yet to be officially confirmed with anyone at the company, but co-founder Katie Lee – who effectively left in February but stayed on as a freelance – has been Tweeting today that the UK’s well known blog network Shiny Media has gone into administration. There are also rumours flying around that the company was immediately bought up by a new owner, though there is no confirmation of this as yet and no news on who the new owner is. I’ve emailed remaining co-founder Chris Price and will update this story if/when he responds.

[Update at 5pm: I’ve now heard from the company and there may be a further statement in the next few days]

Andy Merrett, an ex- Shiny Media writer who broke the story at The Blog Herald, wrote: “Access to Movable Type, on which most of Shiny Media’s blogs run, was lost/removed yesterday”.

This will come as a huge blow to the new editors it recently hired in June.

The latest blog post on any of Shiny Media’s blogs is dated July 19. I’m surprised no-one noticed sooner, but that does indicate how low the network had sunk since the heady days when it landed $4.5 million in 2007 from Brightstation Ventures, which acts closer to an incubator that a VC.

But it must also be said that $4.5m since 2007 is a huge burn for a small company and questions need to be asked about why Brightstation let one of its key investments fall into this trap.

Brightstation – owns Koodos and OSOYOU – is reportedly raising a second fund from high net worth individuals which to roll out new websites by the end of the year. OSOYOU entered administration at the end of last year but Brightstation bought all the company’s assets in January. A relaunch is planned. Brightstation CEO Dan Wagner is also founder and chairman at Venda, the full service e-commerce platform that grew out of Boo.com’s ecommerce technology.

However, it’s also highly likely that Shiny is simply a victim of the current media recession. Though it is also worth pointing out that while many US blog networks survived mostly because they had a huge single market to address, Shiny concentrated on the UK, a much smaller market. US blog networks also tended to take tiny, cheap, offices – if at all. Shiny sited themselves in London’s mega-expensive Covent Garden in order to be close to London’s advertising and media sales house.

The most successful blog networks from the UK have resolutely targeted the massive US market. Mashable is still run from Aberdeen and PaidContent – run from London for a year in 2004/5 but always aiming at the large US market, which resulted in its acquisition by The Guardian.

Shiny launched in 2004 and was one of the first wave of blog networks, and was one of the first in the UK. Few others survived. However, last year the company began to show cracks as former co-founder Ashley Norris departed and subsequently penned a controversial bare-all guest post on TechCrunch Europe which attracted 120 comments.

Updates: Reading comments below it’s interesting to see some smaller blog networks still going like Epic Win Media.