Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Three Years Later, the Guardian Wants a Buyer for PaidContent

Three years after buying PaidContent, the Guardian Media Group has put the New York-based media news site and its parent company ContentNext Media on the block.

The British newspaper publisher has hired boutique bank Coady Diemar Partners to market the company. People familiar with the sale believe the Guardian is looking for something in the $15 million to $20 million range for the property, which would let it recoup its initial investment and subsequent infusions of working capital. [UPDATE: Or something much less! A rep for the company’s  Guardian News & Media unit says, via e-mail, that the $15-$20 million aspiration is ” is not a figure we recognise.”]

The move, which the company has contemplated for the last year or so, comes as the British newspaper publisher is going through a cost-cutting round while simultaneously gearing up for an attempt to create a U.S. foothold, via a New York-based Web operation. Alan Hudson, a Bank of America executive hired by the Guardian this summer to “oversee the company’s investment portfolio,” is overseeing the sale.

Here’s a statement from a Guardian PR rep, sent in response to my query about the sale:

“Following a strategic review Guardian News & Media has decided to seek a buyer for ContentNext Media. ContentNext is a high-quality asset but our focus in the US is on building the Guardian. It’s early days but we have received several expressions of interest and are talking to a select number of potential buyers.”

In addition to its flagship PaidContent site, started by founder Rafat Ali in 2002, ContentNext also operates three otherverticals”; like many Web news publishers (including this one), it also operates a conference business.

Ali left the company in the summer of 2010.

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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