Twenty years ago it would have been crazy to think that a successful media company could not only exist, but prosper, without owning any media.

The New York Times employed a fleet of reporters and editors to produce articles and copy the company owned and distributeed. CBS employed thousands of producers, directors, actors, stage hands and other workers to produce television shows, movies and news reports.

It would have been absurd to think of third parties producing content and media for CBS and The Times – for free.

But that’s exactly what is going on today.

Facebook is eight times bigger than The New Times, as measured by annual revenue ($12.5 Billion to $1.6 Billion). And Facebook neither produces nor owns any media.

Is Facebook a media company? Of course they are, just in a different vein than we’re accustomed to.

Facebook’s media is produced and distributed (shared) by users. The media is in the form of text and video.

Just like traditional media, the revenue model is advertising. Perhaps making the media on Facebook more attractive than traditional media, is that the media on Facebook is free. The Times requires a subscription and viewing CBS requires a cable subscription.

When Facebook acquired Instagram three years ago for $1 Billion, everyone thought Facebook was nuts.

But as Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) told a gathering of us in Seattle, Facebook needed media. Facebook had the technology to deliver media, they had the audience, they knew how to generate advertising revenue online and they knew how to mine user data. Facebook just needed more media to generate more revenue and Instagram had lots of free media.

Facebook’s revenue and stock price is off the charts. But you say they own no revenue. It doesn’t matter. Facebook has a relationship with the producers of media – its users. Facebook is even developing relationships with publishers such as The Times which wants its content distributed on Facebook.

Of course Facebook has to deliver value to earn and nurture relationships with the media producers. Facebook does it with the experience it provides users. Who, as a regular Facebook user, doesn’t enjoy the ability to share, read, and watch media on Facebook.

LexBlog is transitioning from solely a marketing company to a media company. We support our members with the technology to produce and share their media in an engaging fashion. We provide them strategy, coaching, design and on-going support so that they will be successful and professional in their media production.

Law firms and other professional firms understand they need to produce their own media today. Distributing content in articles and the like or issuing press releases is not enough any longer. LexBlog becomes their media partner.

Taking it another step, The LexBlog Network (LXBN) curates and highlights the best and brightest insight and commentary from the over 1,100 blogs and 8,000 contributors on our network.

LexBlog certainly doesn’t own the media on The LexBlog Network, but the value we provide our members has allowed us to establish enough of a relationship to showcase the memberships’ media.

It’s a wild world when media companies do not own media. But’s a world that exists today.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Terrell Woods