23, 1998 |
Ownership of Online News|
it comes to business and technology news, you can throw out all notions of
the Internet being home to ill-trained gossips and computer nerds typing
If you want to read about the latest
merger between a media giant and an Internet upstart, for example, there
are easily 10 different quality Net-native sites you can hit up.
A partial list would include: ZDNet.com/zdnn,
Herring and Internet.com.
There are even a handful of newsletters, such as Newsbroker,
the Iconocast and Media Grok, which sponge up the best of the
Even though these publications are
generally objective, their blurry business profiles make it difficult to
determine whether they have a vested interest in any given subject.
Complicating the matter further is that these news outlets
compete for the same small number of contracts with search engines, and
flirt with the same small number of traditional media powerhouses. Certain
companies, like Japan's Softbank, own chunks of several similar news sites
(ZDNet, Red Herring, TheStreet.com).
The sites themselves
then contribute to the mess by posting articles from their competitors.
It's a tangle, and perhaps because it is a lucrative one, no
one seems to be in any hurry to untie the knots (though TheStreet.com has
an admirable disclosure page & policy, and IDG has a fine set of
guidelines to separate editorial from advertising).
shed a little light on the subject, OJR presents a list of the
aforementioned sites' business interests, as compiled from company
documents, SEC filings, press reports, interviews, and the sites
||Principal news site: ZDNet.com/zdnn
|Description of news site:|
computing and technology business news. Collates from and links to
ZDNet's network of publications, offers world headlines from MSNBC,
and has a "tech news elsewhere" section.
|Executive Producer: Patrick Houston
||Owner: Ziff-Davis Inc. Publicly traded,
majority shareholder is Softbank, with more than 71%. |
|What does Ziff-Davis do?|
technology magazines and Web sites with an emphasis on product
reviews; organizes trade shows and conferences; conducts market
research; and provides education. Claims to be the "world's
preeminent integrated media and marketing company focused on
computing and Internet-related technology." ZD is the largest tech
magazine publisher by ad revenue, with 28 principal titles and 50
licensee publications, and it produces the annual Comdex trade show.
|Ziff-Davis' other publications and
PC Magazine, PC Computing, Macworld, Computer
Shopper, ComputerLife, Family PC, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Yahoo
Internet Life, PC Week and dozens more. See http://www.ziffdavis.com/medianetwork/zdmn_circfind.htm.
Newsstand distribution through Warner Publishers
Services, licensing agreement with Yahoo Inc. to print Yahoo!
Internet Life. Provides computer/technology content for Yahoo!,
Excite, MSNBC and Pointcast, and has signed default bookmark deals
for Web browsers made by Compaq Computer Corp. and Gateway 2000.
Print publishing: IDG,
CMP Media, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Imagine
Internet publishing: CNET, CMPnet, IDGnet,
Trade Shows: Miller Freeman,
Mecklermedia Corporation, IDG.
Market Research: Dataquest
and IntelliQuest, Information Resource Group, Dun & Bradstreet,
|What do Ziff-Davis' investors
Softbank is a gigantic Japanese software company and
Internet investor, run by Masayoshi Son, known as "the Japanese Bill
Holds strategic stakes outright or through subsidiaries
in more than 70 firms, including Internet/media companies Yahoo, Red
Herring, TheStreet.com, E*Trade Group, GeoCities, I/Pro, PointCast,
Third Age Media, Zip2, Electric Classifieds, and more.
has also forged partnerships with Microsoft, the Fox Group, and
dozens of other major media companies.
ZDNet discloses its relationship with Softbank
in most articles about Softbank's investments, and does not disclose
either competitors or business partners.
"The Company's influence over
computer purchasing carries with it the responsibility to maintain
the highest standards of fairness and objectivity in its product
reviews. To ensure this impartiality, Ziff-Davis has instituted
policies governing separation of editorial functions from
advertising sales functions and restricting trading in securities of
technology-related companies by its journalists."
-- SEC Filing
|1997 revenue, profit (Ziff-Davis): $1.154 billion, $71.2
million net loss.
||Number of employees: 3,698, more than 450 editorial.
||Principal news site: news.com |
|Description of news site:|
computing and technology business news. Links to the CNET family of
sites; posts outside articles in "News From Around the Web."
|Editor: Jai Singh
||Owner: CNET. Publicly traded. Minority
investors include Vulcan Ventures (21%), Intel (6%), Amerindo
Investment Advisors (4.8%) and NBC (4.99%). |
|What does CNET do?|
IT/Internet-related sites; produces four TV programs; and owns the
search engine, Snap! Online. Claims that "online and on television,
CNET is the leading authority on computers, the Internet and digital
|CNET's other publications and
Snap (81%), Vignette (24.4%) and CNET Direct
(19%). Sites include CNET Radio (radio.com), computers.com,
builder.com, gamecenter.com, download.com, shareware.com, search.com
provide content for Netscape's Computing & Internet channel on
Snap has exclusive retail agreements with Borders.com
and Cyberian Outpost, plus partnerships with Compaq (uses Snap as
customized home page for Presario Home PCs), Sprint Internet Access
(default home page), Toshiba America Information Systems (default
home page for Satellite laptops), and GTE (joint development of
Internet gateway for GTE customers).
Working with Bloomberg to
jointly develop financial resources & stock indices on the Net.
Ziff-Davis, IDG, CMP Media, Mecklermedia
Television companies: CNN, the Discovery
Channel, Jones Computer Network, Mind Extension University,
Search engines: America Online, Yahoo, Excite,
Lycos, Infoseek, Netscape, Microsoft.
|What do CNET's investors
NBC, which now owns 19% of Snap (with an option to buy a
majority stake), also owns NBC.com, CNBC, half of MSNBC (with
Microsoft), videoseeker.com, part of Intercast (with Intel), part of
Launch Media (with Intel), part of Arts & Entertainment (with
Disney and Hearst), The History Channel, Much Music, Rainbow Media
Holdings (with Cablevision), part of Court TV, Bravo, and much
Vulcan Ventures, the holding company for technology
tycoon Paul Allen, has stakes in dozens of companies, including
Software.net, Cybersource, Digital Evolution, Dreamworks SKG and
Intel has made an estimated $750 million in
investments in more than 200 technology companies, roughly one-third
of which are involved in media and entertainment. A partial list
includes: Ticketmaster, CBS Sportsline, Creative Artists Agency,
Liquid Audio, Avid, Launch Media, Intertainer, Broadcast.com and
Amerindo Investment Advisors owns stakes
in about 20 technology companies. Past investments include Oracle,
Sun, Adobe, Aldus, Symantec, Cisco and Netscape
Discloses relationships with investors in
stories about investors' other holdings; sometimes discloses about
competitors; does not disclose business partners.
"CNET's editorial services are
committed to a strict policy of editorial neutrality. To help create
this necessary separation of church and state, CNET physically
segregates editorial personnel from any department privy to
unannounced information about CNET's business partners. In addition,
CNET strives to disclose these relationships whenever relevant,
specifically in any story or column in which a CNET partner or
investor is a primary subject. Ordinary advertising relationships do
not require disclosure. CNET will disclose relationships and
partners it deems extraordinary."
|1997 revenue, profit (CNET): $33.6 million, $24.7 million
||Number of employees: 581
||Key news site: The Industry
|Description of sites:|
The Industry Standard
is a daily version of the weekly print magazine that covers the
Internet economy, including brief company & personality
profiles. IDG.net is culled from the parent company's myriad
|Editors: Jonathan Weber, Sherry McInroy
||Owner: International Data Group (IDG).
Privately held. |
|What does IDG do?|
books, magazines, newsletters and Web sites; organizes conferences;
conducts market research; and provides education.
Claims to be
"the world's leading provider of computer information." Publishes
285 magazines and newspapers in 75 countries, 500 books in 38
languages (including the popular "For Dummies" series), and more
than 210 Web sites in 52 countries.
|IDG's other publications and
Computerworld, Infoworld, Macworld, Network
World, PC World, Channel World, PC Magazine, PC Computing, Computer
Shopper, Tip World and several other magazines.
JavaWorld.com, DummiesDaily.com, SunWorld.com, TipWorld.com, and
dozens more. Subsidiaries include IDG Books Worldwide, IDG World
Expo, ExecuTrain and IDG Marketing Services.
Preferred provider of tech content to CNN
Interactive's Sci-Tech Computing section (while CNN provides
breaking news to IDG.net users). Has invested in Excite and
Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, Mecklermedia Corporation.
publishing: CNET, CMPnet, ZDNet, Mecklermedia
Trade Shows: Miller Freeman, Mecklermedia
Market Research: Dataquest and
IntelliQuest, Information Resource Group, Dun & Bradstreet,
|Thestandard.net's and IDG.net's
Both sites operate under a
comprehensive IDG online ethics policy found on their site, which deals mostly with the separation of
editorial and advertising/management.
Both reveal IDG as a parent
company, but do not identify its investments in Netscape and Excite,
or its competitors or business partners.
"The dynamic technology of
electronic pages and hypertext links creates high potential for
reader confusion over what is editorial versus advertising, and IDG,
therefore, has taken extra steps to prevent any such juxtaposition
or confusion. IDG's editorial guidelines are built on the simple
principle that only the editors should decide how content is
presented, and which content is presented. The Web provides a whole
host of subtle ways that such a line can be crossed, and we want to
be explicit in stating that there is a line we simply can not and
will not cross in regard to respecting the interests of our
readers." — company press
|1997 revenue (IDG): $2.05 billion
||Number of employees: More than 9,000, with 2,000
|Description of site:|
Home page for a family
of 30-odd tech Web sites, divided into the categories of "builders,
sellers and users of technology." Daily news, news broken down by
category, and links to CMP's sites.
||Owner: CMP Media Inc. Publicly traded,
with minority investors including J.W. Seligman & Co., Seligman
CEO William Morris, and T. Rowe Price Associates. |
|What does CMP Media do?|
and Web sites emphasizing IT business-to-business; organizes trade
shows and conferences. Has more than a dozen publications, plus a
syndicated radio show and an online TV "network."
to be "the broadest, richest, deepest source of technology news,
information and resources on the Web."
|CMP Media's other publications and
InformationWeek Online, InternetWeek, Network
Computing Online, BYTE, Data Communications, LANTimes, tele.com,
TechWeb, TechTools, TechCompanies, TechCalendar, TechEncycolopedia,
Enterprise TechSearch, UnixWorld Online, EDTN, ChannelWEB, NetGuide,
GamePower, FileMine, ISPs.com, Voices, Netstrology, Windows Magazine
Online, TechShopper, TechInvestor and TechSearch.
content for Infoseek, AOL 4.0, AT&T Worldnet, Internet Explorer
4.0, Home.Microsoft.com, Hotmail Webcourier, PointCast, BackWeb,
Bell South, Big Yellow Netscapte In-Box Direct, MindSpring, AirMedia
and DLJ Direct.
develops "custom content" for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and
Ziff-Davis, IDG, Mecklermedia Corporation
publishing: CNET, IDG, ZDNet, Mecklermedia Corporation
Conferences: Ziff-Davis, Mecklermedia Corporation, Miller
|What do CMP Media's investors
Seligman, which has a series of investment funds, has
major holdings including AOL, EMC, Seagate Technology, Maxim and
Electronics for Imaging.
T. Rowe Price also manages funds, which
hold AOL, Panamsat, Maxim, Ericcson, Sterling Commerce, Xylink and
Discloses competition with Ziff-Davis but does
not identify its investors, competitors or partners. CMPnet also
publishes "custom sites" for clients, which look like editorial
zones but are promoted in the company's "sponsorship opportunities"
"To preserve the editorial
integrity of each publication's news reporting and analysis, the
Company seeks to maintain strict separation between the editorial
and sales staffs of each publication. The Company believes that its
reputation for objective, fair and credible editorial content
contributes significantly to its success."
-- SEC filing
|1997 revenue, profit (CMP Media): $474 million, $17
||Employees: 1,720 |
|Description of site:|
online investment and financial news service, with an attitude.
||Owner: Privately held. Shareholders
include James J. Cramer, Martin Peretz, Bear Stearns' Constellation
Ventures Fund, New York City Investment Fund, Flatiron Partners,
Chase Capital Partners, Softbank Technology Ventures. |
|What does TheStreet.com do?|
itself, nothing more. Claims to be "the leading, most respected, and
best-read online financial publication."
Distribution alliances with ABCNews.com, AOL, American Express
Financial Direct, Charles Schwab, DLJdirect, Horsemouth, The
Industry Standard, The New York Observer, Reuters' Reality Online,
United Features Syndicate, Yahoo.
Wall Street Journal
Interactive, CBS Marketplace, Bloomberg, Reuters, Bridge News,
|What do TheStreet.com's investors
Cramer is the manager of the hedge fund Cramer,
Berkowitz & Co. Until 1997, owned more than a million shares in
AP/Dow Jones; helped the company launch SmartMoney in 1996.
Peretz is the editor-in-chief and chairman of The New
Republic, director of 11 mutual funds managed by The Dreyfus-Mellon
Bank Group, director of biotech company Leukosite, an "early and
active investor in Internet ventures," an owner of the Electronic
Newsstand, and the original investor in Tripod.
Capital Partners is one of the largest private equity firms in the
world, with stakes in more than 350 companies, including media firms
such as American Radio Systems, Cable & Wireless Communications
plc, Enquirer/Star, Nextel Communications, TeleCorp, Triton
Communications, Latin Communications Group and Magyar Telecom
Flatiron is "the leading Internet-focused, early-stage
venture capital firm in New York City," with stakes in Abuzz,
eShare, Geocities, ITXC Corporation, IXL, Mainspring, Multex,
Resonate, StarMedia, The Rights Exchange and Yoyodyne.
Softbank Technology Ventures is an investing wing of
Softbank, the world's leading publisher of computer-related
magazines and books. Softbank owns stakes in more than 70 firms,
including Internet/media companies Yahoo, Red Herring, Ziff-Davis,
E*Trade Group, GeoCities, I/Pro, PointCast, Third Age Media, Zip2,
Electric Classifieds and more.
Bear Stearns controls
several investments funds that own stakes in companies such as
Microsoft, Intel, Travelers Group, Citicorp, Cisco Systems and more.
New York City Investment Fund manages $60 million of
investments in "worthwhile projects" for the city, including
Ericsson's CyberLab facility in the New York Technology Center.
On stories longer than briefs, it identifies its
investors and business partners, but does not always identify its
"In all stories on [our
investors], we note that they have ownership stakes in
TheStreet.com." Cramer is no longer accepting new partners in his
fund, no employees are permitted to "hold position in individual
stocks," and reporters must disclose when they write about mutual
funds that they own shares of. Cramer and Peretz are not allowed to
see content before it's published, nor are they allowed to discuss
individual stocks with staffers.
|Employees: More than 70, with 30 editorial
||Principal news site: Wired News
|Description of news site:|
news and culture, links to Wired properties, and posts selected
articles "from the trades."
|Editor: Dan Brekke
||Owner: Wired Ventures, which is privately
held. Stakeholders include CEO Louis Rossetto (18.5%), President
Jane Metcalfe (18%), and Advance Magazine Publications Inc. (13%)
|What does Wired Digital do?|
tech-focused search engine and publishes sites with tech news,
product reviews, and how-to information for Web developers. Claims
to have been "defining the Web since 1994."
|Wired Digital's other publications
hotwired.com, suck.com, WebMonkey, HotBot,
NewsBot and LiveWired.
uses Inktomi software. Wired Ventures has exclusive rights to
publish online contents of Wired magazine, which is now owned by
Advance Publishing. Publishes The Rough Guide online.
CNET, IDG.net, CMP.net, The Red Herring, ZDNet.
Engines: Snap! Online, AOL, Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek,
|What do Wired Digital's investors'
Advance Publications owns the Conde Nast family of
glossy magazines, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ
Identifies relationship to Inktomi, does not
identify competitors or investors.
Wired Digital has very limited
information posted about itself.
|1998 1st quarter revenue (Wired Ventures): $3.4 million
||Number of employees: 115
Herring (http://www.redherring.com/) |
|Description of site:|
computing and technology business news. Links to the print magazine.
|Editor & CEO: Tony Perkins
||Owner: Herring Communications. Privately
held. Ziff-Davis owns minority stake, as does individual investor
Ronald Conway. |
|What does Herring Communications
Publishes Red Herring Magazine and Web site; holds
conferences. Claims to be "premier provider of business and
investment information for emerging technology entrepreneurs."
Partnerships with Yahoo, Nasdaq, Netscape,
Ziff-Davis and TheStreet.com.
FastCompany, IDG, Ziff-Davis, Wired.
CNET, CMPnet, IDGnet, Wired.com, ZDNet.
Miller Freeman, Mecklermedia Corporation, IDG.
Research: IDG, Ziff-Davis, Mecklermedia Corporation.
|What do Herring Communications'
Ziff-Davis publishes more than 80 technology
magazines and Web sites; organizes trade shows and conferences;
conducts market research; and provides education. Titles include PC
Magazine, PC Computing, Macworld, Computer Shopper, ComputerLife,
Family PC, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Yahoo Internet Life, PC Week
and dozens more.
majority owner, Softbank, owns stakes in more than 70 firms,
including Internet/media companies Yahoo, E*Trade Group, GeoCities,
I/Pro, PointCast, Third Age Media, Zip2, Electric Classifieds and
Ronald Conway is a vice president at CBT Systems,
who also sits on the board of Adauction.com and Gradient
Identifies Softbank, Ziff-Davis and Ronald
Conway as investors; does not identify business partners nor
"In the spirit of truth and
journalism, the founders of this publication felt The Red Herring an
appropriate name for a monthly dedicated to providing a first look
at the companies and trends shaping the business of technology."
|1997 revenue (Herring Communications):
Unavailable, though company says it was profitable in 1996.
|Description of news site:|
News about the
Internet, culled from Mecklermedia Corporation's Web sites and
||Owner: Mecklermedia Corporation. Publicly
traded. CEO Alan Meckler owns 29%. |
|What does Mecklermedia Corporation
Publishes 16 Web sites and a magazine; holds trade shows.
Claims to be "the world's leading producer of trade shows and
conferences offering information about all aspects of the Internet."
|Mecklermedia Corporation's other
publications and investments:|
Internet World magazine, plus
BrowserWatch, WeDeveloper.com, WebReference.com, The List,
ServerWatch, WebCompare, Search Engine Watch, Internet World Daily,
InternetNews.com, Electronic Commerce Guide, Java Boutique, Stroud's
CWSApps List, Internet ProductWatch, Cool Central,
Newsstand distribution through Kable News Company,
puts on conferences with Reed Exhibition Companies, developed
Internet industry search engine with Lycos, provides Internet stock
info for Yahoo, and has licensing agreement with Reuters.
Print publishing: IDG,
CMP Media Inc, Ziff-Davis.
Internet publishing: CNET,
CMPnet, IDGnet, ZDNet.
Trade Shows: Miller Freeman, IDG,
Ziff-Davis, Gartner Group, Digital Consulting.
Does not identify competitors or business
On the contrary, the company
happily hypes its own trade shows in its editorial content.
|1997 revenue, profit (Mecklermedia Corporation): $55.2
million, $1.9 million
||Employees: 182 |
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