Exclusive: The (Digital) End Is Nigh–News Corp. Unloading Beliefnet and Considering Jettisoning Jamba/Jamster
Beliefnet, the spirituality site bought by News Corp. in late 2007, is being shopped around for sale, according to several sources.
Sources said that the media giant is also considering selling off Berlin-based Jamba/Jamster, a mobile content provider now called Fox Mobile Group. News Corp. (NWS) paid $187.5 million to VeriSign (VRSN) for a 51 percent stake in Jamba in 2006 and bought the rest in 2008.
Founded by Steve Waldman and Robert Nylen in 1999, Beliefnet is a social networking site focused on religious, spiritual and faith-based issues, with $7 million in venture funding from Softbank Capital, as well as an initial angel investor round.
While its users skew Christian, the site offers blogs, news and other services related to Islam, Judaism and many other faiths, in addition to Christianity.
Its motto: “Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.”
The site was bought for an undisclosed sum by News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group as part of the Fox Digital Media unit. The digital strategy was to distribute some of its religious-based content on Beliefnet.
News Corp. has recently sold off some of the digital purchases it had made several years ago, such as its Rotten Tomatoes site to Flixster in a stock-trading deal.
Interestingly, Beliefnet’s Waldman is now senior adviser on the future of media and information technology to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Jamba was founded by Germany’s Samwer Brothers. On its Web site, News Corp. said it eventually bought it out entirely and “aligned the company’s business strengths with the global market opportunities in mobile entertainment, enabling it to underline its leadership in mobile content distribution, licensing and production as well as offering its customer a broad and up-to-date portfolio of mobile entertainment content further on.”
A News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment on either Beliefnet or Jamba.