Four Kitchens Is Done

In a retreat that was predicted here Leo Laporte has fired his web development team, Four Kitchens.

<~Leo> I just don’t have the money

That new red Audi idling in the Laporte driveway might be on it’s way back to the dealership.

“I’m thinking of just firing the company and having an intern do the site. After all anyone can do it” stated Leo during an impromptu between show talk.

“Now we’re fucked, screwed,” said Leo.

For those who can’t remember the genesis of the new TWiT website here is the relevant TotalDrama post:

Remember this gibberish? Leo and Lisa bought into it,

SF Jargon
SF Jargon

71 thoughts on “Four Kitchens Is Done”

  1. My god. Leo’s inane rambling before This Week in Google just summed up the poor state of his network. Ignoring what the fans want (loved hosts and content) + spending all your time/money on failed web resdesigns + doubling down on shit (MM, elgum, Padre) = deeper hole for TWiT. Leo’ sighs of depression are his well-earned laurels that he brought on with his gold digger.

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    1. Yea, it’s funny. He seems to have no clue what his audience even wants. He’s just trying make money, and letting advertising drive his decisions. Has he ever said, hmmm, what do the original TWiT army want for content? No he’s living a TechTV dream creating irrelevant content, like reviewing Selfie Sticks, and Drones, and shows like Marketing Mavericks and Ham Nation. My god who the fuck wants that content?

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  2. I just tuned in for the news. And looking back through the DVR found Leo shoving down a chocolate bar before changing out of his “too tight” shirt.

    He should get rolled in and out. Pre-dressed.

    Or sit like Jabba the Hut and have slave girls dance for him.

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  3. The best part was Mary Jo yelling “THE SHIRT LOOKS FINE” read: who cares what you’re wearing. We have a show to do!

    Didn’t watch live, so I have no idea, but I think we can assume they started late.

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  4. Its amazing, I try to stay away. But I almost can stand Windows Weekly. So I watch, and get drawn back in to Leo eating while his guests talk. Leo sounding bored by it all, until an ad. Then he perks up. Like a dog with his food being brought out.

    Well trained.

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    1. Windows Weekly is one of the few shows that I watch when it isn’t live. First off I work and I love Paul, Mary Jo’s OK. I watch What The Tech, just because Paul’s on it. I try to avoid watching recorded shows, just so Leo doesn’t get the added view number.

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  5. You know, this is funny because Leo, from day one of this web-design going live (years ago), thought it was horrible.
    And he said as much, live.
    And, honestly, he was right, his website looks like shit.

    But for “The Tech Guy” to go around asking for webdesigners… what is he, one of his own callers? He’s been advertising webdesign and hosting tools for years, wasn’t he paying attention to the words that were coming out of his mouth during those ads? This shit could stand for a montage of him asking if anyone knows a webdesigner and his own ads for squarespace or whatever it was that built/hosted websites.

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  6. It’s interesting that the one thing at twit that made me doubt the TD.N thesis that they are on the way down was them paying paying 350K for a new website. That was a sign of a successful growing network. Now we see the truth. They are in deep shit. The plummeting views of the flagship show could be too much to overcome.

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    1. From the talk it also sounds like they were quoted one thing and charged more. This could all be a tactic in negotiaton or perhaps even in divorce as noted below. Hard to tell truth from posturing but it is definitely drama.

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  7. I could see “kitchen gate” was going to happen. Leo and Li$a kept going on about how long the website design was taking and the cost. So much for CEO wonder bangs $$$$ decisions. I am pretty sure Leo had to settle with Jeniffer before he could marry that witch, but every penny Leo spends on Michael, takes $$$$$ from his real children. Poor Leo, another teenager in the house during those formative years, with TWIT in the hole. This will not be pretty, and to think of what TWIT was years ago, fun and educational……………if only!

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      1. tiwts a lifestyle network now. He should just move every thing over to facebook and call it a day.

        Gum , Padre and Tonya .
        gum is a social network spammer. Padre is a fool that plays with toys and Tonya ads nothing. When has any one said they love spam and marketing?

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        1. Tonya adds her special voice to the network. :p

          Also, you have to give it to her, taking the unnerving, aggressively stupid, awkward “how to best push excrement on people” part of Net@Night / The Social Hour and turning it into its own show to sell back to the network and get its predecessor killed takes above average supply of Chutzpah.

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  8. Isn’t this a pattern that’s been repeating for at least five years? Leo wants a new website, hires somebody, everything’s going fine until suddenly it’s late or way over budget, so he dumps that person or design firm, gets somebody who tells him it’s going to take longer or be more expensive, he buys in, everything’s going fine until suddnetly it’s late or way over budget… repeat.

    The budget keeps going up, schedule keeps getting longer, team keeps getting bigger, but nothing ever happens?

    Come to think of it, same thing happened building the new studio…. too long, over budget, things were never totally planned out.

    In the rest of the business world, I’ll bet somebody in management would’ve lost their job by now.

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    1. Oh come on, the last Twit redesign was only so atrocious that they had to bring back the only sub-page anyone was ever interested in, warts and all.

      How couldn’t one be happy to have dropped 6-figures on that brilliant work? And the TechGuy site? And this current aborted attempt by a bunch of process Nazis?

      There’s no pattern here. Move along.

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  9. You’d think as an Internet broadcast company they might actually employ in-house web people. Their last effort with the current TWiT site didn’t work out so well with Leo calling out that company as idiots on the air. Now this …

    Speaking as a web dev that’s done years of freelance and working for studios – this type of thing happens so frequently, it should be expected. Client comes to you with an idea, you provide a plan with a quote. Client agrees, work begins. Client then starts making changes, reverting changes, flip flips on more decisions, can’t make up their mind on anything – suddenly the budget dried up and they’ve barely got a landing page done.

    Now, since we don’t have both sides of the story it’s difficult to say who is to blame. Still, from experience with the last site, Leo should have seen this coming.

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  10. It was funny for a while, but now just plain sad. Everybody knew the issue, pointed it out. The man is now old, obese and going broke all because of said issue. It’s not funny any more. To think Lisa will end up ahead after all this is sickening. Never dip your pen in company ink, especially when the ink is rotten and dried up. Fuck. Hiring a good looking hooker a few times a week would have been cheaper and kept TWiT going. Also, she would be attractive. Sigh.

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  11. I would also add that Leo probably promises exposure like he did with Restoration Hardware. When they realize that Leo exposure is worth as much as Mike Elgan broadcast tutorials they stop doing stuff free.

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  12. Leo knows as much about tech as Kim Kardashian, and when people tell him he’s wrong he gets mad. the constant knocking of Small computer shops on this radio show pretty much tells people he’s full of sH!t.

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  13. Why would he have an intern do the site when they have a Web Engineer on the payroll (assuming they didn’t fire him in the last 24 hours)
    Patrick Delahanty – Web/Digital Engineer
    April 2013 – Present (1 year 11 months)Petaluma, CA
    Specialties: 24/7 Media Open AdStream, DoubleClick DART Enterprise, HTML, Perl, SQL, CSS, SSI, JavaScript, Adobe Photoshop

    Or could it just be another case of having all the right people in front of you and not knowing it? Or even knowing it, but not allowing people to do the work they can do because of ego. After all Twit has proved itself to be an organization that can’t stand anyone that doesn’t agree with them.

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  14. Leo has stated many many times he doesn’t want to concern himself with the business of running TWiT. That’s how Lisa wormed(Screwed) her way onboard the now sinking trawler SS Leo. Since Lisa was brought on board, every major project has been over budget and late!!! Lisa has been too busy keeping a eye on Leo and not on her projects . Though it appears that Lisa has a check on Leo’s wandering eye by bringing Myriam Joire on board.

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  15. btw: Those clips from the Twig preshow are nightmare-inducing.

    ChiefRotund, Prof Sponsoredby and ClickTroll McGum? Who wants to listen to that show?

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  16. I just don’t get how they could possibly even be spending $250,000 on a website. He said he was happy to spend a quarter of a million dollars.

    I know that once you get into the realms of the ‘professionally done’ website, it’s silly money. But how does it get to $250,000? TWIT is a very small company, and “websites” as a thing are changing rapidly. For example, I run an extremely popular site, on of the top in its market in the UK. But the number of comments on each post has gone down from 120-150 to 6-15. Why?

    Simple: people no longer comment on those kinds of blogs. They share the blog article on Facebook, and then discuss it with their friends there. Our audience is just as high as it ever was, but the social interaction has completely gone. When Leo/TWIT considers what sort of website to spend money on, they need to ask not just what they need, but what the audience is likely to want to need in future. Leo has been silly about this before – he’s said that businesses don’t need websites at all anymore. But at least when he said that he was being forward-looking and considering that what we think of as “websites” might radically change in the future.

    They’ve got a database/Drupal-driven backend. Leo was going on about “headless Drupal”, meaning they would still use Drupal to store and manage the content, but write a completely different set of code to display the site. OK, so that’s gonna be a bespoke design, but…. $250,000?

    Leo spoke of writing a new API for everyone to use – I can imagine this costing money: A web API running into Node.JS and managed by Drupal. Needlessly complicated – after all, html *is* an api for accessing web content. Why would you need to write a whole new way of doing it? When we hit ‘download latest show’ or whatever, *we are already using an API*, that’s what that is.

    But whatever, I just don’t get it when companies think they need to spend big amounts on websites.

    Wouldn’t it have been so much better to get a small team of, say, 16-20 year old students to focus-group, design, build etc. a new site? Maybe not quite that – but something that helps the community, helps schools, contributes back.

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    1. One has to question the preoccupation with fancy back-ends when the site is largely delivering static content that gets updated once a week (show pages, feeds) to basically never. (individual episodes)

      But I guess that’s their end of the Faustian bargain they made with their “free” third-party mobile developers.

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      1. Absolutely. So, ok, maybe Leo is thinking “let’s rethink what it means to ‘have’ a website”, and this “custom API” is about providing the audience with blocks of content and allowing us to do what we want with them.

        That could be interesting – it could lead to something new. It could let the user create their own version of the TWIT website, like making it more custom than any other site has ever done. Create your own channel and media player, create your own design – sure, other sites allow some drag and drop reordering of content, but *maybe* there are new ways to explore this, new ways to offer web content.

        Maybe. You could imagine that this would excite a real geek: “Let’s rethink the whole concept of ‘websites'” – and if you’ve got enough cash to put 2-3 full-time designers on it (forget code for now), then yeah, go for it. That’s worth the money he’s talking about spending.

        In fact, I’ve got a slight sense of excitement thinking about it – imagine if this API was structured enough to allow you to write scripts into it, then “the TWIT website” could be an educational project for schoolkids (and learners of all ages) everywhere, and they could do shows about it. You could teach people how to design a website *using the content blocks that TWIT provides*, and school kids could have, as a project, “create your own podcast streaming network” using the TWIT programs. OK, not so exciting – but the idea of fundamentally thinking how to offer content, *that* should excite TWIT’s audience.

        And that leads me back to your comment. All the TWIT site is is a front-end to mostly static content which is only updated with info from each show. You’re right.

        There are many, many decent Drupal themes that can do a great job for what they need.

        Ugh, could’ve been so good. Imagine, Leo could’ve started a new show. “Building a website”. It could show every stage of the building of the new TWIT website. Meetings, designs, consultations, coding. Sure, it would have to be separated from shows that are sponsored by Squarespace but that’s not a red line. You could have completely different advertisers on the show – it would be aimed at businesspeople, a richer audience. It could *make some money* to help offset the cost.

        I’d love to watch a show like that. There’s so much mystery around how agencies work, how they charge, how design works, how design and code meet. A 16 week 1 hour show could’ve been fascinating and would’ve stretched the network’s abilities.

        But I’m talking here about an organisation which has passion and creativity. And that’s long gone from Leo. Imagine if he wasn’t so insecure and could allow younger people to take over and really make the original dream real. There’s still so much potential for TWIT, but it’s diminishing by the day. I mean, with all that equipment why aren’t they running classes for people? Why don’t they get some proper bandwidth and look into letting people *rent* smaller spaces to produce their own work?

        There was/is so much that could’ve been done, but it required two things: 1) the founder to not have such a massive ego and 2) for him to have employed a really smart, really creative, really passionate manager. Didn’t need a “CEO”, just needed someone with the passion and drive to want to turn TWIT into the best it could be.

        So, yep, the website could’ve been something fantastic, could’ve encompassed the vision stuff I’ve mentioned here. But instead, it was all about Engaging Communities (Viewers, Partners, Hosts Etc.) In New Ways, By Enabling Discovery, Sharing And Participation (otherwise known as “a comments section”).

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        1. Wow those are great ideas and points. Probably deserves its own post.

          I did notice that all the comments are “turned off” on twit. I thought to myself, “I understand the reasons for not having comments but couldn’t you take a moment and write some CSS to hide that fact?”

          I’ve done this a lot of times myself on sites and its a trival task that doesn’t broadcast to the world you’re not listening

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          1. They clearly do not want feedback. There used to be a user voice feedback system. He doesn’t want to listen to his customers. He doesn’t want to know what we want. In fact he doesn’t care what we want. All he wants is to sell ads and get enough downloads to make a profit. And do that with as little effort as possible. He’s in ‘milk the cash cow’ mode, and will coast right in to retirement.

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        2. You have some great ideas. TWiT would be a great place to allow young talent to workshop their shows. Kind of like an incubator for new media.

          But you’re right. Leo and Lisa’s ego got in the way. Feeling threatened by talent, or trying to over manage creativity by just looking at the dollars and cents. We saw this when Erik tried workshopping his show what happened.

          In any media organization there should be a wall between sales, and editorial. But somehow Leo forgot about this wall, and creativity is being stifled. Leo is not focused on making the greatest content possible. He wants to do everything at a profit first, so this is limiting all the possibilities.

          I like the idea of filming the process of making the website. But I see it as a documentary. I always wondered why TWiT doesn’t get into producing tech and science documentaries.

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  17. Has anyone noticed that they never get the links to the show notes right?

    If you go to any podcast app and download, say, Windows Weekly and check the info, you’ll see a short intro followed by the words “We invite you to read, add to, and amend our show notes”. The link in the words “show notes” takes you to http://wiki.twit.tv/wiki/Windows_Weekly_390 – which contains NO show notes. Have a look at this screenshot https://www.dropbox.com/s/46osklja8im1rs4/ww-shownotes.png

    It’s the same for pretty much every other show. When I used to listen to TNT, it was even worse cos there was a spreadsheet as well as notes, and neither was linked properly (it might’ve changed since Magic Mike came in and really brought a new level of professionalism to the network).

    A few months ago, a Security Now listener asked Leo and Steve why this happens, and they both accepted that there was a problem. So they fixed it… but only for SN. Yup, it didn’t even occur to anyone to just spend a few seconds checking other shows.

    Think about what this means. It’s been happening since they moved into the new studio, and since then, *not one member of TWIT staff* has said “I want to go through our podcast info page and see if everything looks ok”. No one has done it. That’s what I’m really pointing out: no one has any pride in what they do (or, they are under so much pressure, they let these easy things slip through the cracks).

    Web design/coding isn’t my main job, but when I do run/code sites, at least once or twice a year I visit those sites as a ‘new’ user, pretending I know nothing about the site. I even use the ‘contact us’ link to make sure that works. Why? Because it’s a really useful way of seeing if things work the way you wanted them to work, to try to view things through the eyes of a ‘normal’ person.

    The people responsible at TWIT don’t have the pride in their job necessary to check out whether their show notes are linked in the right place.

    These small signs really do shine a light on how things are run there.

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    1. I’ve noticed the same, comments are almost always disabled or non functioning thru out the TWiT empire. In order for Leo/Lisa to enable feedback of any sort, they would have to hire and train a staff of moderators in house to keep the comments “family friendly” IOW… Leo Friendly.

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  18. >2) for him to have employed a really smart, really creative, really passionate manager.

    I’m pretty sure you just described Tom Merritt. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed.

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    1. I think you’re right.

      I actually didn’t like TNT (I’m new here so I’ll save that for another day) – I was a massive fan of Buzz Out Loud, and really wanted them to take what made BoL so great and add the TWIT magic to it. I gave it time, I really hoped it would grab me, but it never did.

      But putting that aside, Tom Merritt has exactly that passion and ability.

      In the last few years I’ve almost completely stopped listening to TWIT shows. I’ve become a strong fan of podcasts like ATP and Myke Hurley’s new Relay.FM shows. Same sponsors mostly as well (which does kind of prove that it’s an advertiser-driven market with massive potential), but ad reads that are typically less than a minute and don’t have any of the horrendous “aaaaaaaaaudilbe dot COM, we love ’em, boy do we love Audible” stuff that Leo has always done (since the time he started taking ads).

      The difference between TWIT shows and other shows is that with ATP, DTNS etc. you genuinely feel the passion of people who really want to talk about tech, who want to understand the news and want to dig deeply into stories.

      There’s a podcast called Debug, where they spend hours talking to people who actually *do stuff* in tech. Recently they spent something like 6 hours discussing Apple software development *with the people who actually developed iOS*. Doesn’t matter whether you love Apple or hate Apple – actually hearing recent Apple iOS developers discussing the current wave of criticism Apple’s received, was fascinating.

      What’s interesting is, Debug is co-hosted by…. Rene Ritchie! He sits back mostly, letting his co-host do the heavy lifting. But when Rene is on different networks he’s a completely different person. MacBreak Weekly never bothers to even TRY to talk to people who might know stuff. I know people are fans of Andy Ihnatko, but he is not a man with deep contacts inside Apple.

      I don’t need to hear *fans* discussing Apple or Android. I want to hear people with knowledge and passion, digging into stories and trying to give them context and facts. I just don’t get that from anything on TWIT anymore, with the exception maybe of Security Now and Windows Weekly (which just makes me smile – having a strong woman who fucking LOVES talking about beer, that’s brilliant).

      I rate Tom as a host, I didn’t rate his show on TWIT, but I totally agree that he has the passion and vision to have really moved TWIT forward. I don’t honestly know if Tom’s gradual detatchment – going from news director to ‘host from home’ – was the cause, or a symptom, of problems (I’ve only read back the TD.N archives to last October, so I am still finding stuff out!), but as someone who was a TWIT fan pretty much from the start, I saw an absolutely clear break – when Tom left and wasn’t replaced by someone with drive and passion, the whole network really suffered.

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      1. Tom brought a number of projects to Twit that didn’t work financially, and were hence cancelled.

        Tom than took his other big project to that Youtube vehicle faced by Felicia Day, where it didn’t work financially, and was hence cancelled. (much like said vehicle, which got merged out of existence, IIRC)

        Tom has taken his main project private through Patreon, and is paying dearly for that choice, now being 6-figures in the hole (and counting) compared to his financial realities when he was with Twit.

        I like Tom’s content. His track record speaks for itself, tough.

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          1. Yeah he’s pulling in around 14k per month. How does that backup your statement of:

            “Tom has taken his main project private through Patreon, and is paying dearly for that choice, now being 6-figures in the hole (and counting) compared to his financial realities when he was with Twit.”

            I really don’t think you have a clue what you’re talking about.

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          2. That is now, what were the numbers for calendar 2014?

            And that’s just best-case gross revenue (well, there’s Patreon’s cut), and all sorts of costs that have to be paid from that pool before we could arrive at a final income comparison.

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          3. Right so without access to what he was earning before, his full, current financial situation and information pertaining to his other ventures you really are just pulling numbers out your ass.

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        1. Your numbers for when he worked at twit are way off and you’re using some Leo misnomers. If TNT, a show on 5 days a week, broke even it was a huge plus for twit.
          HUGE

          You are looking at trees and missing the forrest. He was building a network, not a bunch of shows. That is gone now.

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  19. Why does TWiT seem to have such a hard time building a decent website? Tested, 5By5, Geekbeat, etc. don’t seem to have any problem making a nice website whatsoever, and I am sure they did not pay over 100k for them.. Is Leo and Lisa so inept that they can’t even manage to get a decent website for the company, after all these years, and all these dollars? It’s pathetic. Why on gods earth would anyone trust this man for tech advise? He seem to not know donkey dung about anything but cell phones and shoveling food in his mouth. Oh and dragging his relationship all throughout the business and on air.

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  20. They tried to suck out all the idea’s out of Four Kitchen and are now looking for a slave to build upon those idea’s?

    That’s the jest of what is said here?

    We had clients like Leo. Now we have something called a red flag interview.

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