On December 31, 2003, Evan Brunell founded a Boston Red Sox blog titled Fire Brand of the American League. The same day, a friend of his founded a Pittsburgh Pirates blog. Between the two of them, it was decided to try and create a baseball blog network of all 30 teams. Titled the Most Valuable Network, it grew into the first online sports blog network, dominating the landscape for years. Evan served as co-founder and president, wearing many hats over the years and receiving ample experience in all facets of business — executive, managerial, marketing, coding, human resources, accounting, editing — anything a business does, Evan had a hand in. Unfortunately, the economy declined sharply right as a major investment was placed into MVN. The business model became unsustainable, and MVN closed its doors. Below is the open letter I penned about closing MVN.
It is with regret that I’m writing to announce that I have made the decision to close down MVN.
There are many factors that led to this decision, and thusly I will not attempt to work through all the factors and the various happenings that led to this decision. I will, instead, simply cite that the biggest motivating factor was (what else?) finances.
MVN is backed by family money. In better economic times, our investment on this end was not significant. However, the downturn of the economy has hurt us. Online ad revenue dropped at a time we were pushing to make MVN a bigger and better destination. While we were fortunate to have the resources to exist to date, we’ve arrived at the situation where further investment can no longer be justified.
From a personal standpoint, I have worked full-time pro bono for MVN for the six years of existence. Given my current position in life, this was an arrangement that could not last. I did not see potential for future earning at MVN in a time frame that would have been acceptable — or even doable — to my personal welfare.
For the past three weeks, I have been working on getting all MVN blogs a future home. I am pleased to announce that many of the blogs were found homes, either at Bloguin or Real Clear Sports. Several blogs have made the decision to either shut down themselves or go independent. In the coming days, we will be providing you a full list of where the new homes of the blogs will be.
Over the next few weeks, the writing platform at MVN will be dismantled entirely. This means that any mvn.com inbound links to archives will not work. We will provide full archives to the blogs in question for them to import to their new homes. Before January is out, the only MVN page that will exist is the front page at MVN.com, which will continue to look as it does today.
Eventually, we plan on selling the domain. At that point, unfortunately, all traces of what MVN once was will have vanished.
What will survive are the blogs, and I hope that you will continue reading them. We are immensely proud of the blogs and writers that came through MVN. A lot of influential writers got their start or their big jump on these pages. We’re honored that we could provide that opportunity for them and hope that they look back on their tenure at MVN with fondness.
I know that I can say with utter certainty that I poured my heart and soul into MVN, at the expense of personal advancement. My life for six years was building up MVN and the blogs to the point where everyone could succeed. My goal this entire time has not been about personal success. It’s been about making everyone around me successful. I have found that if you do that, you will become successful yourself — and in better ways than if you had focused on yourself from the start.
While I would love to give thanks to many people in this space, I’m afraid this note would reach Moby Dick-ian levels in an attempt not to leave anyone out, so I will simply say: You know who you are, and I hope you know the amount of gratitude I feel for you.
On December 31, 2003, I was in my senior year of high school. I was still reeling from the Red Sox losing to the Aaron Boone-led Yankees two short months earlier… and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to make my voice known. I started a Red Sox blog, Fire Brand of the American League. A friend joined me, starting a Pirates blog. A light bulb went off over our heads, and here we are six years later.
If I had to choose a lasting legacy for MVN, it would be as early adopter of new media, to the point where MVN was a great influence in bringing sports blogs to the national mainstream of consciousness. When it got started, blogs weren’t even at the stage where it could be looked on with scorn by mainstream media. Heck, most of our early recruiting efforts came from message boards, because there weren’t enough blogs to find. (To be clear, I’m not citing MVN as the reason why sports blogs are popular — that would have happened regardless.) MVN was able to recognize early on the power of blogs, and what a network of blogs could do. Of course, to this day there are numerous sports blog networks. I remember when there was just one.
I’ll let our history and influence — whatever you think it is — speak for itself.
I’m just proud I got the opportunity to lead MVN and work with many wonderful people.
Co-founder, Owner, President of Most Valuable Network, LLC