Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Holway's Hotviews acquired by Pearson for £100m

Dream on, you say but...

Everytime I mention 'blogs' to serious tech CEOs they either glaze over or groan. Afterall the news and comment they have always trusted in the media comes from the FT, WSJ, Businessweek etc. A summary of the comments I have heard would be "Blogs are written by ignorant upstarts high on their own ego. They are misguided at best, dangerously erroneous/libelous as worst. They are a passing phase and best ignored".

The problem is that there are now globally (on my rough estimate) around 50,000 reasonably serious tech blogs. A fair few of them are written by highly respected analysts and influencers. Indeed, many of the stories that these self same doubting tech CEOs read in their 'trusted' FT, WSJ or whatever, probably came from a blog entry. Blogs almost always carry the news before other media sources. As I have said before, blogs can make (as they probably did with the iPhone) or break product launches and corporate reputations. Collectively, tech blogs get far, far more readers than all the tech print media added together.

In 1996 when I started HotNews, I didn't actually know I was blogging. The word did not get invented according to the OED until some years later. But Hotnews was a blog and, I will continue to claim, was the first UK tech blog. The launch of HotNews was undoubtedly a pivotal moment in the history of Richard Holway Ltd. Our sales took off as a result as we "punched above our weight" as many observed. Between the launch of Hotnews in 1996 and 2000 when I sold to Ovum, sales quadrupled. Hotnews made my reputation. How much of the five-times revenue valuation that Ovum ascribed to Richard Holway Ltd came from HotNews is difficult to determine. But Ovum took that model and launched it across all its service areas with EuroView. To many tech CEOs this was their main (only) personal exposure to Ovum. The model is now copied by most of its competitors.

Although I launched Holway's Hotviews earlier this year, I only started to make a noise about it a few weeks ago. I have been quite amazed at the success of the daily email version and the feedback I have received. It is not so much the quantity as the quality of readership!

For this reason, the recent extensive comment on the possible valuation of the leading tech blog - Techcrunch - really caught my eye. A recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle will give you a good backgrounder on Techcrunch. I quote "TechCrunch has a full-time staff of eight. This year, it hired a CEO. In August, 1.25 million people visited TechCrunch or its affiliated blogs at least once, according to comScore Inc. It brings in $240,000 per month in advertising, according to Arrington, and pulls in additional revenue from conferences and parties. Most important of all, TechCrunch is in the black".

$3m revenues, in the black and a staff of eight. So how much is Techcrunch worth? Well according to the pundits c$100m and the most likely buyer would be CNET. 33-times revenues is rather better than I achieved in 2000!

First instincts would be that such a valuation is crazy. But if you are in print media with declining sales and advertising revenue, getting into online news is not a luxury - it's a necessity. A point well made in the respected 24/7 Wall Street blog. What better way to get 1.25m readers and a trusted comment source?

I clearly need to look at Holway's Hotviews again in a whole new light!

1 comment:

ARonaut said...

One can never pay enough CGT it seems ;-)