Archive for Time

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by Dave Liu

News Corp. Stock Moves From NYSE To Nasdaq — With Nasdaq trading higher than the NYSE on Tuesday, News Corp picked a good day to tell its shareholders the stock would begin trading on the tech-heavy exchange. News Corp (NYSE: NWS). which has traded on the NYSE for over 20 years, said that Nasdaq will give its shareholders more up-to-date trading technology. On Nasdaq, News Corp’s Class A common stock will trade under the symbol “NWSA” and its Class B common stock will trade as “NWS.” The transfer will take place on Dec. 29. Nasdaq has been trying to lure other companies from the NYSE, Reuters notes. It recently scored a victory against its rival when regulators ruled that companies moving from the NYSE can keep the same stock symbols on Nasdaq’s exchange.

ESPN Web Overhaul Almost Done; ‘Less Is More’ Design Aimed At Advertisers — ESPN.com’s year-long revamp is finally ready today and set for its formal debut on January 5. Aside from emphasizing video and smarter search, as the company has talked about over the past few months in previews, execs at the Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) sports unit tell the NYT that the site’s overarching ethos is all about reducing ad clutter. As John Skipper, ESPN’s EVP for content, explains: “If we are frustrating people, they’re not going to spend as much time as we want on the site.” Some of the key changes include: The revamped home page has done away with the big block of 36 links at the top, and reduced it to 19 tabs for Fantasy (a rollover unveils about 16 sub-categories), NFL (which unfolds to offer eight links that take users to the “scoreboard” or “blog network”) and a “More” tab, which has 20 links to areas such as Olympics, poker and cricket news.

Lee Enterprises Faces Possible Default — The crushing debt that was built up over the past few years at newspaper publishers like The Tribune Company and McClatchy (NYSE: MNI), is now weighing heavier on Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE), the parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This week, the Davenport, Iowa, publisher said that it faced several potential default triggers on its debt, the WSJ reported. In a statement, Lee said it notified the SEC that it will delay filing its annual report until on or before Dec. 29, because it needs additional time to sort out the amount of non-cash charges it will take to reduce the carrying value of goodwill and “other intangible assets.” Lee expects the impairment charges to total at least $180 million after-tax for the quarter that ended Sept. 28, 2008. Lee’s auditor, KPMG, said it will include an explanation in the company’s annual report of Lee’s “ability to continue as a going concern.”

Microsoft’s Search Guru Brad Goldberg Turns VC — And another one bites the dust. Brad Goldberg, Microsoft’s GM for Live Search, is leaving to head up the online business at Peak6, a Chicago-based investment firm. TechFlash confirmed the news with a Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) exec who said the departure was “amicable.” The company will replace Goldberg with Mike Nichols (who has experience working with online services exec Yusuf Mehdi). Still, Goldberg is leaving on the heels of two other key executive departures: Brian McAndrews, who oversaw a large portion of Microsoft’s online division, and Bill Shaughnessy, who’s resigning as global VP of sales—meaning the company’s online services, overall sales and now search divisions will all be under new management. The changes may be part of a stealthy reorg in the wake of Microsoft’s appointment of Qi Lu as head of digital, as none of these new departures were mentioned in the release that detailed the realignment of several teams.

CBS And Time Warner Considering Joint Olympics Bid — CBS and Time Warner’s Turner Networks are in discussions about making a joint bid for the broadcast rights for 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, AP confirmed. Both media giants caution that the talks are merely exploratory and no plans have been put in place. NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) has the rights to the 2012 games, having beat Fox and ESPN/ABC with a $2.2 billion bid back in June 2003. NBC has had rights to the games since 1988. Considering the ratings success it had across its broadcast, cable and online, it will likely put up a fight to continue its Olympics run. Still, it’s hard to imagine what shape all the major networks will be in next year, given the likelihood that the economy will remain in a severe recession. The talks between CBS and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) will likely spur the other parties to examine the prospects of a collaborative deal.

Knight Foundation Gives $390K To Four Local News Sites — At least there’s still some expansion going on these days… Four non-profit hyperlocal news sites are sharing a $390,000 investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to build up their reporting staffs. The recipients of Knight’s backing are MinnPost, which received $250k from the Knight fund in August 2007; the three-year-old VoiceofSanDiego.org, which was started by a columnist for the city’s Union-Tribune; the Chi-town Daily News, which has relied on citizen journalists and staff reporters to cover Chicago’s 75 neighborhoods; and St. Louis Beacon, which was covers the city in partnership with its local public TV station. Over the past few years, the Knight Foundation has handed out $100 million to community-minded news outlets.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by Dave Liu

Google-Yahoo Put Partnership On Hold; Talks With DOJ ‘Continuing’ — Yahoo and Google will suspend working together in order to give the Department of Justice more time to determine whether or not their ad search pact runs afoul of anti-trust laws AllThingsD reports, citing sources close to the situation. Yahoo spokesman Adam Grossberg confirmed that report for paidContent, saying, ”The companies have agreed to a brief delay in implementing this agreement to continue our ongoing discussions with the Department of Justice. We have had discussions with regulators and look forward to responding to their questions about this agreement.”

Magazines’ Digital Revenues Offset Last Year’s Print Declines (For Some) — As magazine ad pages continued to slip this year and last, digital’s growth appeared to help offset the print losses at several publishers, particularly Time Inc. and IDG, AdAge reports. The 48 mags that shared information for AdAge’s annual Magazine 300 survey said that revenues from digital ranged from 0.3 percent to 38 percent, with the median figure for digital last year hitting 9.75 percent—about double what magazines reported last year. Counterbalancing print declines: For the most part, tech-focused mags saw the greatest gains from digital. Among the magazines whose digital sides compensated for print declines, IDG’s PC World told AdAge that its digital share gained 38 percent, the highest on the survey and up from 32 percent in 2006. Consumer titles began feeling the benefits from digital as well.

Facebook Co-Founder Moskovitz Leaving To Start New Company — Facebook co-founder and chief engineer Dustin Moskovitz is leaving the social net to found a new company with another departing Facebook engineer, Justin Rosenstein, Valleywag reported and CNET confirmed. Moskovitz served as head engineer for Facebook, having served a more behind-the-scenes role in the recent years. It’s the most recent in a series of exec departures.

Friendster Joins Bebo In Allowing Facebook App Compatibility — Making like Bebo, Friendster has announced it now supports both Facebook’s code and OpenSocial, CNET reports. The move effectively enables Fbook app developers to port their apps to Friendster and to choose between Fbook and Google’s OpenSocial APIs when launching apps on Fbook. Last year, Friendster launched its developer platform with over 180 apps and allowed participating companies and developers to advertise anywhere in the app space and keep all of the revenue. It closed a $20 million round and hired a new CEO, Richard Kimber, in August.

Ask.com Aims For More Relevance, More Engagement With Latest Revamp; More Users Wouldn’t Hurt — A busy 24 hours at IAC (NSDQ: IACI), another update from search engine Ask.com, going live now with its “next generation.” Goals include reducing searches to one click and providing direct answers on the results page in high-volume categories. The changes follow a shift in strategy announced last spring to focus less on the whiz-bang kind of services that might impress “the digerati” and more on practical results.

Ben Wolin, CEO, Waterfront Media: ‘A Two-Horse Race’ — Late last night, Waterfront Media and Revolution Health put the finishing touches on a merger that, when the dust settles, will produce a #2 health network with more than 20 million uniques. While a lot of the focus is on Steve Case’s dramatic switch from building his own massive health network to holding equity in another company, it’s a big leap towards Waterfront CEO Ben Wolin’s goal of building a network that can topple WebMD (NSDQ: WBMD) from its long-held perch at the top of the category. Wolin and I spoke today about the merger that is transforming the company he will continue to lead. Funding: Waterfront raised $20 million in equity inv*stm*nt from current investors but the merger itself was a straight equity play with Revolution becoming a “big” shareholder. Wolin said Waterfront doesn’t assume any debt as part of the deal. He said he doesn’t know where the notion came from that Waterfront was having problems raising money, mentioned here earlier, and that the company had offers of funds from current and would-be investors. The $20 million fifth round —making a total of $57 million raised—adds cash to the balance sheet and provides some flexibility as Waterfront expands. So what is Waterfront worth now? Wolin: “As a private company, that is a hard question to answer.” He says the company was on track as a standalone to make close to $70 million this year and also be profitable. He expects the combined number to be “well north of $100 million” in 2009. More M&A: “We see more. We’re going to build a big company and some of that’s going to happen organically and we’re going to continue to go after very attractive assets.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , on September 16, 2008 by Dave Liu

McClatchy Eliminates Another 1,150 Jobs Or 10 Percent Of Workforce; Sees $100 Million Cost Savings — McClatchy (NYSE: MNI), whose shares have fallen from around $21 to about $3 in the last year, has announced its second big job elimination of the year: The newspaper publisher is cutting 1,150 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce. About half will come from “voluntary programs and managed attrition.” Excluding $20 million in severance costs, the company expects the move will save it $100 million over the next year; that represents about 6 percent of trailing twelve month expenses for the company. In June, McClatchy said it was eliminating 1,400 positions (which then also represented 10 percent of its workforce). There had been some hope that further layoffs might be avoided following a wage fr*eeze announced last month. The announcement doesn’t offer a breakdown between editorial and non-editorial eliminations, though CEO Gary Pruitt mentioned efforts to “sustain editorial quality and meet its public service journalism obligations despite some staff reductions.”

Wall St. Turmoil Not Likely To Touch Online Ad Spend; WPP’s Sorrell: Too Soon To Tell — Today’s news about the fall of Lehman Brothers, Bank of America’s planned rescue of Merrill Lynch and insurer AIG’s debt problems isn’t going to have any immediate affect on online ad spending, though residual impact could eventually cause advertisers to pullback somewhat. But for the moment, online ad expenditures are expected to remain stable, since the industry has already been bracing itself for a wider economic retrenchment that started in earnest last year when the mortgage lending crisis first hit ground. For the moment, most agencies are pretty reticent about reacting, opting for the wait and see approach. Responding to a question for what the impact of all this news is likely to have on spending, WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell said via email: “Far too early to assess, but expect continuation of current trends.”

Time Inc’s Maghound Service Launches Under the Radar; Some Majors Missing — Time Inc has quietly launched its much delayed and much-anticipated online magazine subscription website Maghound. The service, in beta, borrows concepts heavily from Netflix, in that it allows users to choose up to 15 magazines from a broad range of titles for one set monthly fee, with the ability to switch titles at any time. At launch, it has 240 titles, about 40 less that what Time Inc said at a trade show in June, Folio notes. In addition to all Time inc titles, of course, it has titles from Conde Nast (not all), Rodale, and others. Notably missing is any magazine from the Hearst stable, including Esquire, Cosmopolitan and others. Some of the other notables I checked on which are missing are The Atlantic, Business Week, Wired, The Economist, Reader’s Digest, and National Geographic .

MTVN Aims For ‘Tribes’ With Online Ad Net For Its Cable Channels — MTV Networks is readying Tribes, an online ad network tied to its various cable channels, Mediaweek reports. Tribes will pull in outside sites to establish ad sales and content syndication for MTV, VH1, Spike TV and CMT over the next several weeks. At some point after the new year, Comedy Central will get the Tribes treatment as well. Tribes is modeled on the ParentsConnect ad net, which MTVN’s Nickelodeon set up in February, with less than a dozen blogs and sites related to children’s entertainment. The company tells Mediaweek that ParentsConnect now has 46 sites, with more to come. At launch, Tribes is connected with Echo, which is comprised of several fan sites focusing on particular artists like Alicia Keys and Kanye West.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by Dave Liu

Comcast Interactive Media Acquires DailyCandy For $125 Million — This time the rumors were true, at least when it comes to the sale if not the price: e-mail service DailyCandy, the equivalent of an all-day sucker when it comes to the length of time on the block, finally has been sold to Comcast Interactive Media for an undisclosed sum. SAI, which shares an investor with DailyCandy in Pilot Group, has a source that puts the figure at $125 million, also being reported by WSJ. Viacom was among those talking to Pilot but dropped out of the bidding weeks ago before the final round, according to a source familiar with the discussions. (Update: Just talked to a Viacom spokesperson, who confirmed that the company looked but dropped out of the process in early June and never made “any kind of a bid.”).

Sony Buys Bertelsmann’s 50 Percent Stake In Sony BMG For $1.2 Billion — As expected, Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG have reached an agreement that has Sony buying Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in Sony BMG for $1.2 billion. The music company will be called Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. Sony and Bertelsmann AG originally created the Sony BMG joint venture in August 2004. Details about the financials are here (PDF). Bertelsmann had been seeking $1.5 billion for its stake, though it was expected with only $1.2 or $1.3 billion at most. Under the deal’s terms, the two have also agreed to continue to share the company’s manufacturing and distribution requirements between Sony’s manufacturing unit, Sony DADC, and Bertelsmann’s services company, Arvato Digital Services GmbH, by extending the agreements with Arvato for additional terms of up to six years. In addition, Bertelsmann will be taking over selected European music catalog assets from Sony BMG.

ESPN Buys Motorsport’s Racing-Live.com, Disney Bags RaisingKids.co.uk — ESPN is buying Racing-Live.com, an independent motorsports site founded way back in 1995. Racing-Live.com claims three million monthly uniques and has four sites – F1-Live.com, Moto-Live.com, Rally-Live.com and Raid-Live.com – covering F1, Moto GP, superbikes, rally, sports cars and karting. It was started by Montpellier-based racing fan Michel Marvie – who first began publishing motorsport news to France’s Minitel in the 80s – and has grown to offer live race updates and news in English, French, Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish.

Google Sells Performics SEM Unit To Publicis — After Google completed its acquisition of DoubleClick earlier this year, it announced plans to divest itself of Performics, the search marketing firm that came with the package. That Google wouldn’t want to be in the SEM game was pretty easy to comprehend. Today the company has announced that the unit will be sold to advertising firm Publicis for an undisclosed sum. The Paris-based ad holding company says it will combine the unit with its existing SEM practice and that it will strengthen its VivaKi Nerve Center. Performics has 200 employees around the globe who will report to Vivaki head Curt Hecht. The deal is expected to close this quarter.

Internet Brands Buys 12 Websites, Expands Careers And Shopping Verticals — Internet Brands buys in bulk. In April, the internet holding company announced it was buying five sites. In February it bought nine. Today it’s picking up 12, as it expands two major verticals: shopping and careers. No terms on the deals were disclosed. Shopping: The four sites acquired were Bargainist.com (lists good deals), Boddit.com (again, bargain hunting), Deallocker.com (user-submitted deals) and Ultimatecoupons.com. Obviously, the common thread is that they all appeal to people looking for a bargain—probably a smart approach in this economy. Careers: The other side of the economic coin: people are concerned about jobs. Hence a massive expansion of its careers category. Here are the 10 sites listed in the category, each of which should be self explanatory: AirlinePilotCentral.com, AviationEmployment.com, ClassADrivers.com, HospitalJobsOnline.com, ifr*eelance.com, ModelMayhem.com, NursingJobs.org, PPRuNe.org (The Professional Pilots Rumour Network), RealPolice.net, WAHM.com (Work At Home Moms). PPRuNe.org isn’t a new acquisition—it was just in a different category—and it seems that one other of these sites was also not a buy, though it doesn’t say which one. The point is: the company now has a vertical in careers comprising of ten sites.

Time Inc. Strange Buy: Acquiring Reader’s Digest School Funding Raising Unit QSP For $110 Million — Time Inc. has bought out QSP, a school and youth groups fundraising company that was part of Reader’s Digest Association, for $110 million in cash. RD is owned by PE firm Ripplewood Holdings. For Time Inc, the fit is, well, I’ll let them describe it: “It sees fundraising as a growing area for subscriptions across the magazine publishing industry and envisions benefits to operating QSP’s large direct-selling force in North America.” In other words, it will focus QSP on selling magazine subscriptions as a way to raise funds, something the company was already doing in addition to other incentives/gifts such as food items.