The slicing-off continues at WebMedia Brands.
The company announced a deal to sell off its Internet.com unit for $18 Million to QuinStreet. The stock WEBM is up 7 cents, or 12.92%, to 61 cents as of this writing, on the news of the sale.
Internet.com includes a large number of specialized technology sites, such as PHP Developer and WinPlanet. It also includes Small Business Computing, a long-standing small business technology site.
WebMedia once included Jupiter Media and Jupiter Research and was quite a high flier. Bit by bit, it sold off its different operating units. Now it more or less consists of Media Bistro.
Now, $18 Million may sound like a nice chunk of change to some. But consider that just last year, a single blog was sold for $15 Million (Bankaholic, sold to Bankrate). The WebMedia sale involves a large number of websites — by my quick count there appear to be 50 or more websites. That amounts to a little over $350,000 for each website, on average. That’s not even counting the value of the domain name “Internet.com” which surely is worth something by itself.
According to Paid Content, Chairman Alan Meckler says the sale means they will have extra cash to invest in other acquisitions.
But that begs the question: why invest in new Web businesses if you didn’t invest in the old ones? The Internet.com websites have an outdated look. The sites look as if they haven’t been redesigned in years. The Internet.com site itself has a reasonably fresh look, but click on the other sites in the portfolio and you mostly will see designs that look 5 to 10 years old.
Plus, as a general rule the sites seem to lack advanced social features. Today, a media business must incorporate social features and develop a strong loyal following if it is going to differentiate itself from the multitudes of other news sources online.
On top of that, the content has gone downhill at a lot of the sites, too, recently, in my opinion. Surf through the sites and you will see some that are not as frequently updated as they would need to be, if they are to compete with today’s crop of dynamic sites that are updated a dozen or more times a day. What content there is, seems uninspiring to me (with a few exceptions, such as Small Business Computing).
One lesson to take from this situation is something that people are discussing today on numerous forums and back channels: your websites must evolve and grow as the Web evolves. You can’t stand still if you want to maintain value in your business.