Aardvark calls it a day

One of New Zealand's oldest online news and commentary sites, Aardvark, is to close down.

One of New Zealand's oldest online news and commentary sites, Aardvark, is to close down.

Set up by Bruce Simpson in 1995, Aardvark has evolved into a daily dose of comment, news and links to technology stories from around the globe, however Simpson has found maintaining the site is eating into his time and money when he needs both on another project.

"It's costing about $30,000 a year to keep the site going, charging at a minimal cost for my time, and I just can't afford that any more."

Simpson has been advertising for sponsors on the site in the last few months and has received donations from a number of people, however he says he needs to focus his attention on his X-Jet engine project.

"It's reached the point where it needs more funding so I can avoid making the mistakes I made in the past," says Simpson, referring to the 7am.com website he developed but which he has since lost control of.

The X-Jet project is an extension of his work into pulse jet engines and Simpson says he can develop a low-cost alternative that would be perfect in this new era of unmanned aircraft.

Simpson says he has already been in contact with defence contractors from overseas about the project and needs to focus on that as a money-making venture rather than on Aardvark.

"The advertising model on a niche site like Aardvark really isn't working at the moment, although I have to say in the late 1990s I was making a profit on the site."

Simpson says because of his outspoken views and unwillingness to compromise he has found it hard to attract a full-time corporate sponsor that would have allowed him to continue work on the site. The irony is that same view point has a return of 80,000 page views a month from a hard core of around 5000 regular readers.

"I did consider offering immunity as a form sponsorship but decided against it," he jokes.

Simpson says he can see the day when all content-driven sites have to demand a subscription fee, but that day has yet to arrive.

"When it reaches a critical mass of sites and you discover that you can't find a free alternative to the site you visit, then it will really kick off but that day is still a couple of years away I think."

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