Danny just posted about him leaving Search Engine Watch and SES by this December. The specific reasons was contractual and that Incisive and Danny couldn't come to terms on (what I believe to be) some sort of equity stake in the future of SEW and SES. There are just so many questions buzzing through my head. I know the industry has not yet had time to react, so I plan on doing a follow up to this post with the industry response but first let me try to predict.
(1) What will happen with Danny? Well, as he said, his last day at SEW is November 30th. He will be doing the SES Chicago event, but that is it. Will Danny start a new site? Work for a company? Do consulting? Well, these are all options. We know Danny won't leave the industry, he has had a huge impact on creating this industry - and I can't see Danny just getting up and walking away from it. I would expect to see a new blog/site come about, where Danny continues to write on search topics. Maybe the blog/site will act as an anchor for his book, that he has been eager to write. I would also expect Danny to get tons of offers from both SEM companies and the search companies themselves. You can expect him to get a few offers to write for an other search industry site. But I think Danny will initially start his own thing, do consulting on the side, and start getting his book underway.
(2) What will happen with Search Engine Watch? On one hand, Search Engine Watch (SEW) is the site on search, it is the authority, it was the first source and remains to be the ultimate source on search topics to this day. On the other hand, the reason SEW is all of that is because of one man, Danny. Danny invented, created, built up, and made SEW into a success. Is SEW dependent on Danny? I thing very much so, in terms of the day to day management. I know a little of what goes on behind the scenes, and I know that the site runs because of Danny. So it is hard to say how this will impact the site. The site should remain an authority, but you can expect those close to the industry, those at the forefront will have some inward resentment towards Incisive and whomever takes Danny's role. But that can and most likely will be done diplomatically, to reduce the level of any resentment.
(3) Who will take over SEW? Well, the next man in line is Chris Sherman. But Chris and Danny have been working together for five plus years. I doubt Chris needs SEW to be successful. I honestly have not spoken to Chris about it. But I am sure that if he wanted to take over, he would be able to. But for some reason, I think he may not. Just a feeling. So who will? I don't know, but I bet lots of people will be jumping at the opportunity to fill Danny's shoes.
(4) How will this affect the industry? I feel there will be resentment towards this whole event, but that will die down by itself. Danny will continue to contribute to the industry, so much won't be lost there - I hope. SEW may lose some of its authoritative power, that it once held. The industry will move on. The conferences, I suspect will continue to do well. The site will continue to get lots of traffic. But the industry, the community, will probably see less activity around the SEW brand and more around Danny and other names in the industry. A lot has to do with #3. More on this later today.
(5) What will happen with me? Will I still work on the SEW blog? I have no idea. For now, yes. But I have no idea what will happen.
(6) My advice to Incisive? If there is any way to keep Danny, do it. All in all, I believe the next year will be very rough. The site will suffer, the conferences will suffer, and the industry as a whole will suffer. Try, try, to do whatever you can, to keep Danny - if it is not too late.
If you have questions for Danny, there are instructions on how to communicate with him at http://daggle.com/060829-112950.html.
I did post a thread at SEW forums, but I don't expect many answers from Danny there. Use the methods above.