Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Condé Nast Gets Ready to Go Shopping, Adds $500 Million and an Ex-Yahoo

Anyone have anything they want to sell to Condé Nast? The publisher is officially in shopping mode: It has hired an M&A guy and raised $500 million in cash to get him started.

Condé Nast’s parent company, Advance Publications, announced this morning that it has brought on Andrew Siegel, who spent the past year trying to get deals done for Yahoo, to run strategy and corporate development.

And Advance has rounded up $500 million for Siegel, by selling a chunk of preferred stock it owns in cable network Discovery Communications.

When the deal is done, Advance will still own about 31 percent of Discovery, but says it wants the money to “diversify into new acquisitions and investments that will hopefully turn out to be as meaningful.”

Okay. Like what? The logical assumption is that Advance/Condé wants to put Siegel to work snapping up digital assets. And like most publishers, Condé has watched as upstarts like Gilt Groupe (private market sales) and Groupon (daily deals) have more or less created new markets it should have been in from the start. Time to catch up there?

Not necessarily, says Advance exec Steve Newhouse, whose family owns the publisher and who is helping to steer M&A efforts; he’s also head of Advance.net, the company’s digital arm. “Andrew will be looking at opportunities across the board,” he says. “We don’t have a short list.”

Still, he said, it would make sense for Siegel to be attuned to digital deals. “I think we see opportunities to take advantage of the audience we’ve created through our strong digital brands,” Newhouse says.

Newhouse also says that Siegel/Advance’s M&A efforts won’t be capped at $500 million. But if I had to guess, I’d wager that the company is most interested in acquiring or investing in companies in earlier stages of their lives, and not in megadeals.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald