Price: $7 million, says MediaWeek, for a company with 700,000 print subscribers and $14 million in annual revenue.
That, my friends, is not what we call an accretive acquisition. It is a bloodbath for everyone else in science media. Unless they were losing $5 million a month, it means that price is a disaster for anyone in science media that is not membership-funded, like Science or Nature. If subscribers are 700,000, that is down from the 870,000 it had when Disney sold it to WallerSutton and Sandler Capital Management, with Bob Guccione Jr., the founder of Spin and Gear, as CEO - for an estimated $15 million. It may also mean the market for print science magazines aimed at educated non-professionals just does not exist any more.
Chain of ownership:
Time, Inc. 1980-1987
Family Media 1987-1991
WallerSutton and Sandler Capital Management, 2005-2010
Kalmbach Publishing, 2010-
That's not to say user-generated companies are doing poorly, just editor-driven print ones. NowPublic.com, with $12 million in investment, sold for $25 million to Examiner.com and AssociatedContent.com went to Yahoo for $100 million.
SEED Media CEO Adam Bly had been hinting since last year he was selling his magazine and online portals to National Geographic but if a cash-positive magazine with a good brand only sells for $7 million there is no way a company bleeding money is getting anything at all.
There is a silver lining in all of this, provided by Discover Media CEO Henry Donahue:
The sale process, says Donahue, consisted mostly of strategic interest and attributes the apparent success of the deal to the digital operations the brand has developed. "It put us in a good position to have an actual sale process in contrast to most of the transactions you've seen out there in the market," he says.Yep, the online branding, which had really only ramped up over the last two years when they acquired Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy and Carl Zimmer of The Loom, seemed to be key reasons for getting a deal done. Not a bad result for basically installing Wordpress and recruiting people who were already successful, right?