HealthCentral’s Acquisition of Wellsphere – Much Ado About Nothing

Unless you’re a part of the health care blogosphere, you probably haven’t been following the incredible firestorm that health care bloggers have created around the acquisition of Wellsphere by HealthCentral. Here’s the cliff notes version:

  • Bloggers receive flattering email from Wellsphere asking to join their Health Care blogger network
  • Bloggers provide their blog feed to Wellsphere
  • Wellsphere aggregates their blog content for months
  • HealthCentral Acquires Wellsphere
  • Bloggers Freak Out
  • Bloggers learn that the TOS gave Wellsphere the right to sell their content
  • Bloggers feel betrayed
  • Bloggers flame Wellsphere and HealthCentral for acquiring them
  • Bloggers pull their blog feeds from Wellsphere
  • ? (still to be written)

Honestly, I feel like bloggers are making much ado about nothing.  Sure, the emails from Dr. Rutledge were incredibly flattering.  I had to literally tell myself when reading them that Dr. Rutledge had never read my blog.  He didn’t really know how good I am at blogging even though his email called me an “expert blogger” and a “true medical expert.”  Seems like many bloggers who got that email couldn’t read through the marketing gloss.  (See the full emails here)

I too joined Wellsphere and my experience was very much like this health care blogger except the part where he feels like a sucker.   I knew what I was getting into.   All that was suggested was getting more exposure for my blog and possibly more credibility and visibility for my name.  My blog being about Health Care IT I didn’t see the promised traffic and so I pulled my blog.  No harm no foul.

I think people are making a bigger deal out of having their content on Wellsphere anyway.  If you’re blog holds any weight, then there are tons of spammers all over the internet that are pulling in your feed and republishing it.  Having it on Wellsphere doesn’t change the value of your content.  In fact, in some ways it can add more value to your content since it links back to your original post.

Sure, I feel bad for those bloggers that didn’t understand what they were getting into.  However, do I think that Wellsphere was unethical in what they did: No.  I also disagree with Dmitriy who said that “Wellsphere epitomizes all that is wrong with the “Health 2.0 Movement.”"  There are so many bigger issues with Health 2.0 than this, but I digress.   From my experience, Wellsphere did exactly what they told me they were going to do.  Do I wish they could have driven more traffic to my site?  Yes.  Did it happen?  No.  Oh well, it was worth a try and cost me almost nothing.

The funny part for me about all of this is that just last week I sent an email to a couple wellness educator friends of mine that were looking to creating a wellness website.  I sent them Wellsphere as an interesting example of building a community of people focused on Wellness.  When asked, I told them that Wellsphere was probably VC funded and as such would be looking for exit opportunities.  That’s just how a website like it works.  You build it to exit.  Most common of which is purchase by another company.  It’s just unfortunate that so many bloggers were unaware of the web VC busines model.  Don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

Since I’m the eternal optimist, let’s take a look at a couple really cool things that have happened because of the HealthCentral acquisition of WellSphere:

  • I’ve found a ton of really cool Health Care bloggers that I’d never known before
  • Health Care bloggers have never been more passionate and united in a common cause

Now if we can harness that passion and energy to something as important as health care and wellness, we can certainly do a lot of good.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.