Articles of the Day


Cuil’s Too-Cool Valuation: $200 Million — At least it has a valuation worthy of the hype… Cuil, the recently launched search startup, mainly known for the yawning gap between the quality of the site and the amount of press it got, is valued at $200 million by its investors. The number was determined by PE Data Center (via VentureBeat), using public records, going back to its incorporation in late 2006. Besides the eye-popping headline price, the analysis provides a good glimpse into the mechanism for achieving this valuation, which jumped rapidly from $32 million in early 2007, to the latest price, set later that year, when it raised $25 million, for a total raise of about $33 million. The amount raised had been publicly known, so the story isn’t just that they raised a lot (which they did), but that the founders (with Googly resumes), could get such favorable terms. Meanwhile the chief investor, Madrone Capital, which manages the money of the *Wal-Mart* heirs, did a rather un-Wal-Mart job of getting a bargain.

Content Partnerships Set, Linkedin Now Readies Ad Network — Over the past few months, LinkedIn has sought to make itself more than just an online directory for professionals by striking various content-related deals with the likes of BusinessWeek, NYT and CNBC. With those in place, it’s time for the next step: forming an ad network. Dubbed the LinkedIn Audience Network, the social net is promising to make it easier to reach its 27 million members. The company’s announcement was fairly reticent on the details, such as what other sites it is including in the network. The new program is primarily about expanding existing ad targeting through LinkedIn’s inCrowds—which lists members according to pre-defined and scalable audience segments such as corporate execs, small business professionals and IT workers. Advertisers can also can work with LinkedIn to create their own custom audience segments. The company says the non-personally identifiable data it will make available to advertisers includes industry, job function, seniority, company size, gender and geography.

Reed Business’ Auction Running Into Trouble? — Reed Business Information’s second round auction may be running into trouble, as bidders are lowering their prices, reports Times UK. There are no bids close to its £1.25 billion ($2.5 billion) asking price and there is talk the unit may be worth as little as £800 million ($1.6 billion), the report says. Yet, there is still hope that Reed may be able to sell as a whole, with Bain Capital believed to be particularly interested, the story says. Is the piecemeal sale still possible? As for who’s in and who’s out in second round.

EA Terminates Acquisition Discussion With Take-Two — After seven months of back and forth, Electronic Arts has terminated its takeover talks with game publisher Take-Two. It announced in a statement today that “while EA continues to have a high regard for Take-Two’s creative teams and products, after careful consideration, including a management presentation and review of other due diligence materials provided by Take-Two Interactive Software, EA has decided not to make a proposal to acquire Take-Two and has terminated discussions with Take-Two.” This after FTC cleared EA’s bid in August, and it seemed the two were in confidential negotiations to come to some agreement. EA first offered $26 per share in February, and then lowered to $25.74.

NBCU’s Strategy On Women’s Sites Appears To Work; Collective Traffic Up 28 Percent — NBC Universal’s strategy to link its women’s sites together in a content and ad network seems to be paying off, traffic- wise at least. The company’s cluster of women-oriented sites operating under the Women@NBCU banner– iVillage.com, BlogHer, Oxygen.com and BravoTV.com—attracted a collective 19.8 million uniques last month, ClickZ reported, citing stats from Media Metrix. That number represents a 28 percent increase over the 15.4 million uniques it had in August 2007, signifiying the 25th straight month of year-over-year growth.

More MySpace Music: Raising PE Money?; Not 15th; CEO Shortlist; Advertisers — MySpace Music, which was originally expected to launch Monday, is now pushed to later in the week, and other drib drabs about it are leaking out. We had some details earlier on Friday. New PE Funding?: Very much like Hulu. the other digital video JV, MySpace Music, which has investments from the three studios, is looking to raise PE money, reports TC. The post says it is looking to raise “well over $100 million, at a valuation of $2 billion or more.” Providence Equity Partners, which invested $100 million in Hulu at $1 billion valuation, is reported to be looking at investing. Staci adds: Well, yes, News Corp would love a $2 billion-plus valuation—think Facebook—but that doesn’t make it so; that’s their number, not something anyone has agreed to but again, think Facebook and Microsoft. Call it a case of headline valuation versus real valuation. Providence would be a natural investor given that the two already have a good relationship aided by the way Hulu is so far delivering on its promise. MySpace Music is different, though. As one person familiar with the thinking explained it, Hulu is its own company for the most part while MySpace Music is really like a company with MySpace—and with more parties involved. On the other hand, unlike Hulu, which has had to build an audience, even though the music itself is fairly ubiquitous, MySpace Music could launch as the number 1 music site or pretty close to it.

WSJ.com Relaunches During Financial News Meltdown; Glossy New Look, Business Song Remains The Same — It’s either the best of times or the worst of times for the long-awaited relaunch of WSJ.com. With all the tectonic shifts on Wall Street—Lehman Bros. on the verge of bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch in buyout talks with Bank of America, AIG starting a massive reorg, just to name a few—if all goes as planned, WSJ.com readers will see a completely new site Tuesday `morning. Ditto for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network as Dow Jones implements a massive online makeover in the works even before News Corp took over. The familiar blue and white no longer dominates, making way for a glossier look with charcoal backgrounds and beige accents, presaged by the microsite for the new WSJ. magazine. Even the masthead is charcoal. Even though this redesign moves the site further away from the newspaper, the overall look has the kind of elegance of the print Journal at its best. From a usability standpoint, the most dramatic changes are the elimination of the left-hand navigation and the shift from mirroring newspaper sections to an online-centric organization.

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