This is the story of two different web sites devoted to teen writers: Figment and Inkpop. One had about 95,000 users and the other had about 115,000 users, with almost no overlap between them.
HarperCollins Publishers Inc. owned Inkpop; Figment is owned by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear.
Today it was announced that Figment would be buying Inkpop, uniting all those divergent teen writers under one online umbrella. This is a big win for Figment which will emerge with nearly double its current number of users, and a big loss for identity in general.
You might be asking yourself, "what the hell is he talking about now?"
Well, you might think the people who created these teen-theme websites had never met a teenager in their lives. If they had, then surely they would understand there was a very good reason the two sites did not share the same users: teens enjoy having their own identity; a choice in what to wear, what to watch and what web sites to use.
To believe for one second you can simply shoehorn these kids into one site simply because you bought the competitor is an insult to the greater Teen Intelligence. I wouldn't be surprised to see a group of teens, or even one enterprising teenager in her mom's basement, create their own competing web site for the kids who simply "don't fit in" at Figment.
Teens are fickle creatures and prone to doing things simply because they can. You cannot second guess them. You cannot predict their behavior, unless you are predicting they will do something completely unexpected. You certainly cannot expect to corral them like cattle. You would have an easier job herding butterflies in a summer breeze.
I will be watching Figment in the coming months to see how it responds to the needs of its sudden surge in users and whether or not (as I predict) more teens jump-ship and some even create their own outlet for online writing.