Archive for Waterfront Media

Digital Media VC

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Waterfront Media Raised $20 Million — New York-based online health media company, has raised $20 million in fifth-round funding, according to a regulatory filing. No investor information was disclosed. The company had previously raised around $42 million in venture capital and debt funding from Scale Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, Rho Ventures, Time Warner Ventures, BEV Capital, Neocarta Ventures and Hercules Technology Growth Capital.

Rave Wireless Raised $7 Million — New York–based provider of mobile phone programs for colleges and universities, has raised $7 million in Series D funding, according to a regulatory filing. Listed shareholders include Bain Capital Ventures, Sigma Partners and RRE Ventures. The company previously raised around $35 million, including an $18 million Series C round last year led by Trilogy Equity Partners. Raised $5 Million — New York–based online television network, has raised $5.2 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, according to a regulatory filing. The round was originally announced last month, but without a dollar amount.

The Mechanical Zoo Raised $2 Million — San Francisco-based social search startup, has raised $2 million in convertible promissory note funding led by August Capital, according to a regulatory filing. David Hornick of August has taken a board seat.

DigitalArbor Raised $5 Million — Cohasset, Mass.-based provider of back-end production services to the digital advertising, marketing and content/communications markets, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Flybridge Capital Partners led the round, with partner Jeff Bussgang joining the company’s board of directors.

VibeAgent Raised $3 Million — Charlottesville, Va.-based hotel search engine, has raised $3 million in Series A funding from individual angels.

Blyk Raised $40 Million — Finland-based mobile network for young people, has raised €40 million in new VC funding. No additional details were disclosed for the round, which was announced on the company’s blog. Company shareholders include Sofinnova Partners.

Boxee Inc. Raised $4 Million — New York-based developer of a “social” media center, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures. Bijan Sabet of Spark and Fred Wilson of USV will join the company’s board of directors.

Easou Raised $12 Million — Chinese mobile search company, has raised $12 million in third-round funding. iD TechVentures and AXA Private Equity co-led the round.

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. 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, 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.”

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2008 by Dave Liu

Revolution Health, Waterfront Media Plan Merger To Compete With WebMD — Reports of this possibility first surfaced last month and now it’s done … Steve Case’s ambitious Revolution Health Network will merge with Waterfront Media in a deal the parties value at $300 million, according to the New York Times. Revolution’s sites will be absorbed into Waterfront’s Everyday Health Network but will remain. Case will join the board while Benjamin Wolin remains CEO of Waterfront Media, with Revolution as a “major investor” in the expanded Waterfront Media and its 24 sites. Case will continue to head parent company Revolution LLC “and will continue to be involved with health companies.”

Sony Has It All Now: Acquisition Of Bertelsmann’s 50 Percent Stake In Sony BMG Done, BMG Dropped — The second-largest record company in the world is now all Sony’s. As announced in August, Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in Sony BMG has been acquired by Sony Corp (NYSE: SNE). The former joint venture is now being renamed Sony Music Entertainment – a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America. The purchase values the company at nearly $1.8 billion, according to WSJ. Record labels Arista, Columbia, Epic, J, Jive and RCA all fall under the Sony umbrella, which holds contracts with artists such as Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Usher.

Morningstar Biz News Site Buying Investors Database For $19 Million — Investment research firm Morningstar is buying Fundamental Data Limited, a UK provider of online information about so-called “closed-end funds”, a type of of investment scheme, for £11 million. Fundamental’s products include the web-based dashboard FundWeb and info feeds, offered to investment banks, brokers etc. Morningstar, whose CEO Joe Mansueto later bought Inc and Fast Company magazines, also publishes information to financial professionals, tracking 280,000 investments; its UK site has a tenth of that plus company and executive biographies.

Washington Post Company Buys Foreign Policy Magazine — The Washington Post Company isn’t just an for-profit education company, as it’s still making moves to bolster the media side. Today it announced the acquisition of Foreign Policy magazine, along with its website The bi-monthly glossy, which was originally founded in 1970, will become part of the Slate group, and the plan is for former WaPo foreign affairs editor Susan Glasser to edit the magazine. The magazine claims circulation of 100,000 and it notes that its website is “fast growing,” though no numbers were given out. Terms of the deal weren’t announced, and it’s not clear what Foreign Policy’s financials look like. But it might be a good guess that highbrow, almost-academic, long-form writing on foreign policy might be less exposed to some of the brutal forces impacting the magazine industry.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2008 by Dave Liu

Liberty’s Malone: We’ve Held Limited Talks To Get AOL Access — Talk of a Yahoo-AOL combo has once again heated up, but what becomes of the access business? Its final home could still be Liberty Media. CEO John Malone told the FT that his company and Time Warner have had “limited talks” to swap the declining (but profitable) dial-up business in exchange for Liberty’s stake in Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). Of course, as Malone notes: “Time Warner still needs to divide the business.” Yeah, the process of splitting access and portal isn’t exactly “done” yet. The other party that’s clearly interested in AOL access is EarthLink, which has had some success in improving dial-up profits by cutting costs.

McClatchy Loan Deal Wins It Flexibility—With Costs — The McClatchy Company, like just about every other newspaper publisher, has found itself even more squeezed by the current economic convulsions. On Friday, the Sacramento company announced it has renegotiated $1.175 billion of debt, which includes banks loans and available lines of credit. While the company insisted it was in no danger of default, it needed to amend its debt agreements to alleviate the pressure from falling ad revenues, particularly in its California and Florida markets. But as the company’s SacBee points out, McClatchy will be faced with higher interest rates—about 25 percent extra—and the amount of credit it can access has been reduced. Ultimately, McClatchy’s borrowing costs could increase by $11 million annually, treasurer Elaine Lintecum told SacBee.

Glam Media Readies Male Version; Tries 7 Percent Solution, Cutting Workforce By 14 Jobs — Glam Media, the women’s fashion and entertainment ad net, has had a lot of activity lately. It’s now prepping a men’s channel and ad net with the working title CodeBlue, Venturebeat reports. The content will be comprised of in-house posts and videos in addition to bringing material from outside. The channel is being readied for a November launch under a different name—CodeBlue. NBC/*News Corp.’s* Hulu, Sony Music and MTV are rumored to be signed up as content partners and Glam is said to be talking with other media companies as well. Venturebeat is uncertain as to whether Glam will own CodeBlue completely or if this is to be part of a joint venture. This comes as Glam is cutting 14 jobs, or 7 percent of its 200-person workforce.

Auto Site Autobytel Cuts Staff; Puts Up a For Sale Sign — Online auto site Autobytel, based in Irvine, CA, has laid off about 75 employees under a cost-cutting plan it began last year, it said, citing, as usual, the economy. These represent about 35 percent of its work force. It has also hired RBC Capital Markets to explore a possible sale of the company. “We believe our current stock price as well as overall market conditions are conducive to, and have driven, increased interest in Autobytel from various third parties,” Autobytel CEO Jim Riesenbach said in a statement. The company will record $2.2 million during Q3-Q4 related to severance and other employee-related costs. It expects to save about $10 million each year as the result. In Q2, the company reported revenues of around $19 million, down from $21.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Health Sites Aim To Stave Off Economic Ills — Health information sites have continued to show growth even as more and more players crowd into the category. Data released earlier this month by comScore showed that traffic in the segment increased 21% in the last year, four times the growth rate of the U.S. Internet audience. But as the wider economic weakness spreads to online advertising, will health sites be immune to the downturn? Driving that surge have been newer properties such as Revolution Health Network–launched by former AOL chairman Steve Case, which nearly tripled traffic to 11.3 million as of July, the rebranded AOL Health, almost doubling to 11 million, and Everyday Health Network, jumping 63% to 14.7 million. Longtime category leader WebMD grew only 3%, but was still comfortably on top with a monthly audience of 17.2 million. The site also boasted the biggest share of views for display advertising, at 18.6%–compared to almost 13% for Revolution Health, 12% for AOL Health, and about 10% for Everyday Health.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Time Warner Warns That AOL May Miss Revenue Targets Due To Ad Slowdown; MySpace Ahead of Target — AOL’s Platform-A, plagued by slowing ad growth, might miss its revenue targets, Bloomberg reports Time Warner CFO John Martin as saying at Merrill Lynch’s investor conference. Up until recently, Martin said, ad revenues were growing like “a weed.” But lately, marketers have been pulling back. He told attendees at the Marina del Rey, Ca., conference: “It gives us pause in terms of our confidence to ramp advertising in the back half of the year.’’ In August, Platform-A forecast that ad revenues would continue to rise through the end of the year. But now the ad slowdown has added to pressures on AOL, which has been dealing with the process of integrating the various ad firms it bought over the past year under Platform-A (NYSE: TWX). As a whole, AOL posted a weak Q2, reporting a 15 percent decline in revenue to $1.05 billion and operating income dropping to $230 million from $350 million, due to a 29 percent decrease related to the the loss of subscription revenue. As for the portal side of AOL, which just unveiled a revamped homepage, it is seen as one way to bring ad growth back.

Google Continues Search Onslaught — Google’s still on top of the search heap, as the giant accounted for just over 70% of all searches in the U.S. in August, according to Hitwise. Yahoo, MSN and each received 18%, 5% and 3% of search market share, respectively. Hitwise also found that Google was increasingly driving traffic to social networking and online video sites. For example, social networking sites received almost 11% of their traffic from Google in August, up 44% from a year ago.

Google, Fox Interactive Rank Highest In Video Views — In July, U.S. consumers viewed over 11.4 billion videos for a total duration of 558 million hours, according to new data from comScore Video Metrix. That month, Google sites once again ranked as the top U.S. video property with more than 5 billion videos viewed–representing a 44% share of the online video market–with YouTube accounting for more than 98% of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second, with 446 million videos (representing 3.9%) followed by Microsoft sites with 282 million or 2.5% and Yahoo sites with 269 million (2.4%).

Facebook Braces For Change — Ready or not, Facebook is undergoing a massive redesign. By the end of the week, the social network’s 100 million-plus users will be forced to adapt to a new-look Facebook. For the last seven weeks, the company allowed its users to switch back and forth from the old to the new format. That option is now being taken away. In an interview with The Associated Press, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges the risks behind the makeover, which include alienating some of its audience. This, in turn, could help drive traffic to rivals like MySpace and Bebo. “Any change can be a big deal to our users because this is how they connect with their family and friends,” Zuckerberg said. “So when you move things around, it can be perceived as being not a positive thing even when it’s a positive change.”

Yahoo Expands Mobile Push — Yahoo on Wednesday launched two new mobile features: a new social communications service for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, and an expanded development platform for developers. The first feature, through Yahoo oneConnect, allows users to marry their cell phone contacts lists to friend and follower lists on social networks like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and Twitter. The application, now available in the Apple App Store, integrates these lists and their functionality, enabling users to communicate via instant messaging, email, SMS or phone. “We want to create and enable a mobile ecosystem for billions of users,” said Marco Boerries, executive vice president of Yahoo’s Connected Life division. “We’re turning everyone that uses voice today into a mobile data user.”

Waterfront Media, Revolution Health Talking Possible Merger With Everyday Health — The Washington Post is out with a story we’ve also been working on—the possibility of an acquisition by Waterfront Media, owner of Everyday Health, of Steve Case’s Revolution Health in the form of a merger the two are the second and third largest health sites respectively. (I’m thinking of coining a new term for deals like this—acqui-merger.) In the past, when I have approached Revolution about the possibility of a sale, I’ve been told the company was not in sales talks. Since the last denial, word surfaced that Revolution’s banker Morgan Stanley was switching to sales or merger mode from raising capital. No response at all from Revolution to my request this time. As for Waterfront, CEO Ben Wolin tells me the company doesn’t comment on speculation but also said there is no deal to discuss and that he wouldn’t talk “for” Revolution.