Clearing the Air: David Bott

Jun 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: David Bott, co-founder and operator of the home entertainment Web site AVSForum.com
The play: Mr. Bott co-founded what was to become AVSForum in 1995 to provide a place where home entertainment equipment enthusiasts could discuss, review and debate various technologies. In the past two years, the site’s monthly page views have jumped 30% to about 30 million as falling prices have allowed a larger percentage of the population to buy items such as high-definition televisions without understanding some of the basic concepts behind them, Mr. Bott says. “Right now, normal people walking into Circuit City don’t understand what wide-screen is,” he says. “This is a sad part of the industry.”
The pitch: Site visitors can find information on just about every imaginable home entertainment product in AVSForum’s 60 sections. Once the domain of the hard-core user, the site now has a lot more feedback and participation from novice buyers looking to get information they can’t get at retailers like Best Buy or Wal-Mart. “We’ve started to get the more everyday user on the site. I love it,” says Mr. Bott. “That’s the whole premise of the site — people sharing knowledge with others.”
The challenges: Passions run deep for users of certain technology formats, none deeper than when the Sony-led Blu-ray battled Toshiba-led HD DVD for next-generation DVD player supremacy last year. Mr. Bott shut down part of the site for three days in November because some loyalists began making physical threats to those who backed the competing format. “AVSForum is basically where the war was fought. It got really ugly,” says Mr. Bott. “We’re industry-neutral, but we had to take a stand because we had users abusing users.”
Backstory: Mr. Bott, 41, operates the site out of Rochester, N.Y., where he was raised. He was director of computer network operations for the local government for 13 years before joining AVSForum full-time in 2002. “I’m an enthusiast,” he saysd. “No matter what catastrophes take place, people will always go back to one thing—entertainment.”


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