The nearest thing the videoblogging arena has to a superstar has quit her show in a move that leaves its future uncertain.
Amanda Congdon has cut a dash at the anchor desk of Rocketboom, helping make the snarky, daily net culture news roundup amongst the highest-profile video blogs in the world with around 300,000 downloads per episode.
Since launching in October 2004, actress Congdon's own star has risen with glowing write-ups in the likes of Newsweek and the San Francisco Chronicle, and speaking gigs at a number of events - fair enough to her, she's funny, smart and not a little hot.
But overnight Congdon released a recording in which she told fans: "Apparently, my partner, Andrew Baron, is no longer interested in being my partner, and since he owns 51 percent of Rocketboom, and I own 49 percent of Rocketboom, that's just something I'm going to have to live with."
Baron posted a holding message to Rocketboom and has put other content on hiatus:
But no sooner had Congdon's tyres burned rubber, Weblogs Inc. and Netscape head honcho Jason Calacanis was courting the starlet to host a new show rounding up user-submitted stories posted to Netscape.com, completing that site's transition to Digg super-clone; meanwhile, Congdon has republished a lengthy tit-for-tat email disagreement with her partner.
"Amanda Congdon has decided to move to L.A. to pursue opportunities that have arisen for her in Hollywood.
"We wanted to meet her demands to move production out to L.A., however, we are a small company and have not been able to figure out a way to make it work, financially and in many other ways at this time.
"While we continue to remain with open arms, Amanda has in fact quit and left Rocketboom. So sadly, we bid Amanda adieu and wish her all the best. We are in the daunting process of recruiting a replacement for Amanda."
So, assuming none of this is a Rocketboom-esque hoax, what's going on here? For one, it's a case study in "creative tensions". Congdon's e-mail exchange suggests a lack of clarity over their 49% / 50% ownership arrangement that might have been settled by a better contractual understanding.
Next, it suggests that Congdon's own rising star was too big for Rocketboom. She's a trained actress, whether online or off, and the video blog has given her a good platform to go off and get other work; don't be surprised to see her on a TV and not a PC next.
Maybe other actors should look for similar web opportunities as promotional vehicles. The whole episode makes clear that, in this tech-centric world, it's the talent that counts.