I called Rich Skrenta at Topix.net a few minutes after I posted the rumor about them being acquired by Knight Ridder. Rich was kind enough to disclose the high level details (and I’ve been sweating out the embargo since… agony!):
Knight Ridder, Gannett and Tribune have formed a new JV to buy 75% of Topix; the founding/managing team holds the remaining 25%. Topix will operate independently, and will have its own editorial voice. (Full press release below my… commentary…)
The JV structure is the same approach these three Newspaper Co’s already use to share ownership and operate CareerBuilder, ShopLocal, and Classified Ventures, which includes Cars.com, Apartments.com and Homescape.
I’m thrilled for all involved. More importantly, I’m very interested to see where they take things. Here’s a quick thought:
Marry the concept of Structured Blogging (which I and many others have been thinking about for some time) and Topix’s current geographic and topical categorization: you get classified listings (jobs, cars, houses, etc), reviews, etc. binned, routed and flowing into local newspaper sites, Tribe.net (which Knight Ridder owns a chunk of), and of course, Feed aggregators. (A darker scenario would have the papers using only their proprietary content from the aforementioned existing JV classified sources…)
Well, that’s the obvious stuff. More broadly:
- Topix’s algorithmic manipulation and analysis of the corpus can be used in an unimaginable number of ways; I suspect, like me, you can immediately think of a few lucrative ones (Topix’s noted ability to improve Contextual Advertising yield is down the path)…
- Topix is already part of the local search ecosystem of folks like AOL, CitySearch, Ask Jeeves, The NY Times, My Yahoo… all folks I’m sure the News Co’s would love to build/extend relationships with.
Promising stuff indeed.
P.S. A shout-out to Elle for being one of the first to build something useful with the WordPress Structured Blogging plug-in!
UPDATE: Early coverage from:
—– Press Release Follows ——
GANNETT, KNIGHT RIDDER AND TRIBUNE ACQUIRE A 75% STAKE IN TOPIX.NET
Combination of Technology, Media Assets and Reach
to Power Growth of Topix.net
CHICAGO, McLEAN, VA. and SAN JOSE, CALIF, March 23, 2005 .Topix.net announced today that Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Knight-Ridder, Inc. (NYSE: KRI) and Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) jointly have acquired a 75 percent stake in Topix.net. Ownership is split evenly, with each media company owning 25 percent and the Topix.net founders retaining a 25 percent stake. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Topix.net continuously monitors breaking news from over 10,000 online sources and categorizes daily news content into over 300,000 topics, 24 hours a day. Topix.net will operate as an editorially independent, stand-alone company managed by Topix.net.s executive team. Topix.net will use content and funding from Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune to expand and refine its NewsRank. technology, services and operational infrastructure.
“This transaction provides us with the resources to be the best place to connect to a very wide range of news on the Web,” said Rich Skrenta, CEO and co-founder of Topix.net. .We all serve the news enthusiast, so it.s a natural partnership. Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune generate valuable online content and Topix.net is dedicated to making that content easily found. By believing in the potential of our ideas and technology, they have made an investment in the future, and we.re thrilled to be a part of it..
Topix.net features links to news and information from more than 10,000 news sources including newspapers, magazines, radio, television stations and Web logs. Topix.net distributes news through its Web site, RSS feeds and email news alerts. It syndicates its content through partnerships and tens of thousands of Web sites that host news feeds from Topix.net.
Topix.net uses its NewsRank. technology to deliver highly relevant news, using concept, instead of simple keyword searches. It delivers published news stories organized by ZIP code, industry and hundreds of thousands of topics.
.People want the news that.s relevant to them . where they live, the business that they are in, the topics they care about. Topix.net.s technology will leverage the media assets and broad reach of our three companies in entirely new ways,. said Jack Williams,senior vice president diversified business and development at Gannett. .We are extremely pleased to partner with Topix.net to grow and develop its service and help audiences find the news they want online..
Collectively, Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune operate more than 140 newspaper Web sites with nearly 30 million unique visitors monthly. The companies have partnered together in other joint ventures such as ShopLocal.com and CareerBuilder.com.
Founded in 2002 with the specific mission of providing users with the ability to quickly and easily find targeted news on the Internet, Topix.net is a news aggregator with unique technology to find and categorize news into 300,000 topics, from Autos to ZIP code level local news. Topix.net distributes content via partnerships with Citysearch, Ask Jeeves, My Yahoo!, Bloglines, Metro Newspapers, Newsgator, Findory, Wondir, Infospace, Link Silicon Valley and HelloMetro.com.
Gannett Co., Inc. is a leading international news and information company that publishes 101 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA TODAY, the nation.s largest-selling daily newspaper. The company also owns in excess of 750 non-daily publications in the USA and USA WEEKEND, a weekly newspaper magazine. Gannett subsidiary Newsquest is the United Kingdom.s second largest regional newspaper company. Newsquest publishes more than 300 titles, including 17 daily newspapers, and a network of prize-winning Web sites. Gannett also operates 21 television stations in the United States and is an Internet leader with sites sponsored by its TV stations and newspapers including USATODAY.com, one of the most popular news sites on the Web.
Knight Ridder (NYSE: KRI) is the nation.s second-largest newspaper publisher, with products in print and online. The company publishes 31 daily newspapers in 28 U.S. markets, with a readership of 9.0 million daily and 12.7 million Sunday. Knight Ridder also has investments in a variety of Internet and technology companies and two newsprint companies. The company.s Internet operation, Knight Ridder Digital, develops and manages the company.s online properties. It is the founder and operator of Real Cities (http://www.blogger.com/www.RealCities.com), the largest national network of city and regional Web sites in more than 105 U.S. markets. Knight Ridder and Knight Ridder Digital are headquartered in San Jose, Calif.
Tribune (NYSE: TRB) is one of the country.s premier media companies, operating businesses in broadcasting and publishing. It reaches more than 80 percent of U.S. households and is the only media organization with television stations, newspapers and websites in the nation.s top three markets. In publishing, Tribune operates 14 leading daily newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Spanish-language Hoy, plus a wide range of targeted publications. The company.s broadcasting group operates 26 television stations; Superstation WGN on national cable; WGN-AM in Chicago; and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune.s print and broadcast properties and extend the company.s nationwide audience.