Articles of the Day


Layoffs Possibility Notwithstanding, eBay Wants To Buy Classified Startups — Rumors are floating around that eBay is going to lay off about 10 percent of its 15,000 employees, attributable mainly to an analyst at Wedge Partners, a small Colorado investment-research firm. And while the company has refused to comment on it, it makes sense that eBay will do some rationalization of its business considering its declining profits and stagnant traffic. Despite that, the company is interested in making some more acquisitions in the online classifieds space, according to Jacob Aqraou, GM of eBay’s global classified business. He told WSJ that the company will take over a “fair” number of companies in the next six months or so. With the market being what it is, and the valuations coming down, the company is looking at sites that have leading positions in geographies and industry segments in which eBay doesn’t currently compete. Eastern Europe and Scandinavia as regional priorities, and areas of coverage includes those that serve professionals, such as car dealers and real-estate agents, as well as individual consumers. eBay owns 25 percent of Craigslist (along with the recent lawsuits), and has bought sites worldwide including Germany’s Mobile.de, Marktplaats of the Netherlands, Spain’s Loquo and India’s Bazee. It also launched Kijiji, a classifieds site available in more than 20 countries including U.S. The classifieds business is estimated to generate between 5 percent and 10 percent of the company’s $7.7 billion in annual revenue, the story said.

Media Moguls: Now’s Not Looking Good For Big Deals—And That Includes NBC — Not that this will shock anyone, but with Wall St. falling off the high wire, this is unlikely to be a a period of big time dealmaking. Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Portfolio, media bigs Mel Karmazin, Jeff Zucker and Steve Rattner (Quadrangle), agreed that a slow period for deals will only get slower. Said Rattner: “It’s been an incredibly slow year for the media M&A landscape and I think what’s happened in the last few days is simply going to exacerbate that. Big deals today are not going to happen. They’re simply not going to happen.” Karmazin—who has watched shares of Sirius slip below $1 since his merger with XM (NSDQ: XMSR)—didn’t predict a total deal freeze, but said any financing would come at a steep price (that’s been the story for awhile, even before all the latest).

Vivendi CEO Sees Resurgence of Music Industry; UMG “Next Surprise for Our Investors” — Hope spring’s eternal in music, and it seems, in the music industry as well. Jean Bernard Levy, the CEO of Vivendi (EPA: VIV) (which owns the biggest label Universal Music Group), told FT that he sees a new age of revenue growth, especially with digital and mobile sales. He cites Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) Comes With Music, Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) efforts and now MySpace Music as reasons for optimism, despite the gloom and doom in the industry. Universal, which in July reported first-half revenues up 5 percent at $3.1 billion out of Vivendi’s sales of $17.6 billion, “is the next surprise for our investors”. He added: “I think…we are getting close to the lowest part of the cycle..I really believe we are at the turning point for the music industry and I didn’t say that two years ago.”

Newspaper Site Valuations Hit $450 Million — U.S. newspaper Web sites are the most lucrative of local media sites, with valuations of the largest newspaper sites reaching between $300 million and $450 million, according to a new study. But local television, radio and “pure-play” sites are poised for the biggest gains as newspapers’ online growth is slowed by the faltering economy and a reliance on traditional Web ads, the analysis by BIA Financial Network and Borrell Associates concluded. As the most highly developed of local media sites, newspapers’ online arms have naturally become the most highly valued. The media value for newspaper sites in 2008 was $4.2 million compared to $3.7 million for local television sites, $1.2 million for local radio sites, and $2.4 million for Internet-only properties such as Google and Yahoo. The $300 to $450 million range of the biggest newspaper sites, however, dwarfs the upper range of those of local media rivals. TV sites top out at $30 million to $40 million, radio at $15 million to $20 million, and pure-play at $15 million.

MerchantCircle, Spotzer Offer SMBs Ready-Made Online Videos — MerchantCircle has partnered with Spotzer to offer small- and medium-sized businesses online video clips. The service, which is available for between $39 and $79 per month, aims to lure in business owners that don’t have the time or budgets to develop full-length spots for TV or the Web. The clips also help drive increased search traffic to a merchant’s Web page, since the engines typically index and rank video content favorably in the search results.

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