Pro Tip: Don’t Pivot Your Way Into Irrelevancy

They say news is what happens to the editor on his way to work, so here’s some news: podcast distributor Mevio has apparently pivoted right out of the game. The company hosted a number of well-known webcasts including, for a long time, the late I used the service for about two years to host my own podcast and was quite happy with the service, as were a number of other users I spoke to.

This weekend the Mevio suspended a large number of their “customers” (the service was free but there was no visible way to pay for service), asking them to request producer access in order to gain access to their show pages. This move locks down the podcast completely and there is no way to change the XML to move the podcast and set iTunes to point to a new server.

Mevio wouldn’t answer requests for comment.

Clearly Mevio is pivoting to become more of a media source than a podcast distributor. Founded by MTV’s own Adam Curry, the company recently announced a move to “unify” channels that could explain their lockdown:

“By unifying our previously independent online channels, Mevio is now able to more accurately represent our significant growth, and underscore our increasing value to brand advertisers,” said Ron Bloom, Mevio’s CEO. “Our top 15 ranking on comScore reflects Mevio’s focus on building a true entertainment network that combines the reach and frequency of traditional television with the interaction and accountability of the Internet.”

Mevio has been increasingly attracting large brand advertisers and management expects the company’s explosive growth will enable it to better serve brands that are interested in advertising on entertainment sites that deliver TV quality, original content.

However, the company mentions nothing on their site nor did they inform any of the customers. A few Mevio users on Twitter complained and there are a number of requests on the iTunes Podcasting forum for a way to move iTunes feed pointers to other servers. However, if you’re not part of Mevio’s pivot, you’re SOL.

The takeaway here is that when you pivot, either shut down entirely and reopen or explain every step of the way. Big ideas can fail, but when you take out a swathe of your user base used to your “old” system in order to clear space for a new mission, you do little but spread bad will. In the end, it’s important to pivot when you must, but don’t take out your customers while you do it.