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Brill snaps up Inside.com parent

After much speculation, Brill Media Holdings announces it has acquired Powerful Media, the publisher of media trade Web site Inside.com.

    After much speculation, Brill Media Holdings announced Monday that it has acquired Powerful Media, the publisher of media trade Web site Inside.com.

    As part of the deal, Brill's Content magazine will merge with Inside magazine to create a new monthly title, Inside Content. The companies have said that because of overlap they expect some layoffs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    The newly merged company also announced an expanded partnership with Primedia, which owns a 49 percent stake in Brill Media. Under the deal, Primedia's Media Central unit will gain "a variety of additional editorial services from the new Brill-Powerful Media combination," according to a statement.

    In a press conference with reporters, Brill Media Chief Executive Steven Brill took pains to point out the revenue possibilities of the partnership.

    "What we are presenting today, backed by 50,000 to 60,000 paying customers, is a (deal) where quality information on the Internet is going to command a price that is equal to that quality," Brill said.

    Monday's announcement followed a flurry of speculation about the impending deal.

    Powerful Media has about 100 employees and is believed to be quickly burning through its seed money as it struggles to meet subscription sales from its Web site. Earlier this year, the company considered a deal with Standard Media International, publisher of New Economy magazine The Industry Standard, but those talks unraveled as The Standard was suffering financial woes of its own. In February, The Standard cut 69 jobs, or 17 percent of its staff.

    With the Brill Media acquisition, Inside.com will offer a combination of free and paid content. The site will host material from Media Central's 170 trade publications, data books and conferences.

    Limited paid content will be available to Inside Content subscribers, and people who subscribe to Media Central trade publications will have full access to all articles, including daily updates that will be mailed or faxed in hard copy.

    Paid content will also be available for download on the site, including a popular media business newsletter by Paul Kagan.

    "Last year Kagen.com did something like $300,000 in revenue from people who went there and wanted to download a back issue of the newsletter," Brill said. "This was with a Web site that nobody knew about."

    Several online content Web sites including Variety.com, Salon.com and Britannica.com have recently turned to subscription models in attempts to generate revenue in the face of slowing online advertising sales. Others have pushed to sell larger ads or consolidate operations and cut staff.

    Brill will continue to be the managing general partner and CEO of Brill Media. Powerful Media co-founder and Chairman Kurt Andersen will become vice chairman of Brill Media and share responsibility with the CEO for the general oversight of the venture. He also will work on a TV project for the new company, the details of which were not announced.