Could the world’s largest independent news source be up for grabs? Rumors have been circulating over the past few days about an impending sale by Mashable to one of the most recognized places for mainstream news. The news apparently broke in the midst of the South by Southwest Interactive conference and clearly had everyone talking. The rumored asking price for the largest blog in the world? More than $200 million, but the one question that is clearly on everyone’s mind right now: when will the sale go down?
Earlier reports from Reuters had said that the acquisition could have been announced as early as last Tuesday, but since it’s now Thursday, the news about the deal could have either fell through or may not have been true to begin with. If the deal did go through, hypothetically speaking, Mashable would be the most recent Internet media startups to have been bought by the mainstream media. AOL purchased what may have been the number two largest news source online, the Huffington Post, several years ago, and then turned around and snatched up TechCrunch as well. More and more Internet publications are being acquired as well as their technology. This potential deal with CNN would bring not only emerging and new media technology into the limelight, but also help give CNN more credibility in using technology and its reach.
If the deal were to go through, Mashable’s seven years of existence, would reap a huge payday for the founder and chief executive, Pete Cashmore, and it’s probably been a long time coming. For the longest time, Mr. Cashmore, along with many of the digital world’s best and brightest reporters have helped cover the Internet’s mover and shakers and other relevant industries where the Internet is playing a considerable role, like business and entertainment. No longer known for just being about social media, I’ve been told often by Mashable that they’re about the digital lifestyle…anything where digital or the Internet is pervasive is what they’re about–top ten lists, hilarious viral videos, case studies, etc. And the credibility of the blog with the millions of people who read it everyday is all thanks to the great writers who are and have been contributing content, including folks like Ben Parr, Jolie O’Dell, Jennifer Van Grove, Lance Ulanoff, Christina Warren, Adam Ostrow, Vadim Lavrusik, Charlie White, Josh Catone, Chris Taylor, and a whole slew of their editors and writers on their staff, not to mention the incredible army of contributors eager to help make a name for themselves and their companies.
This purchase would be CNN’s biggest deal since its purchase of tablet publication app, Zite, in 2011. That $20-25 million purchase is allowing CNN to make sure that their content is accessible to folks on their tablet devices in a very appealing format, similar to Flipboard. With Mashable supposedly under its belt, CNN would gain an invaluable resource of not only some of the tech reporting industry’s brightest minds, but also a great venue for talking about technology, which mainstream media just doesn’t seem to have a grasp of quite yet. The Mashable Follow program started more than a year ago, could potentially be integrated with CNN’s iReport service and allow that content to be tied in better. With more and more technology being referenced and affecting the way the world works, having an ace like Mashable in one’s pocket won’t hurt…it will definitely help in understanding the situation and being able to report better.
It should be noted that late last year, Mashable announced at their Media Summit, a brand new platform to help diversify their content. Known as the Mashable Publisher Platform, it would be a new editorially curated syndication experience that would “bring content from select publishers” to the site. One of these partners that the site has is obviously CNN. Every week, someone from Mashable, most likely Mr. Cashmore, would publish a technology post and it would be accessible right from the CNN homepage. The relationship is in place, so why wouldn’t the deal go down? The opportunity to leverage existing content from partners like AppAdvice, Causecast, ClickZ, GeekSugar, International Journalists’ Network, paidContent, Pocketnow, PSFK, and UX Magazine, just screams to CNN the potential for extensive content available right from their site and the amount of eyeballs looking at CNN/Mashable would be enormous.
Time will only tell whether Mashable will sell. CNN looks to be the logical place for them to sell to. But if they decided to go elsewhere, who would have the necessary capacity to purchase them? Would a print company like the New York Times try to snag them? What about Conde Nast? Would General Electric or perhaps providers like Comcast? How about another media empire like NBC? There are a lot of guesses, but there’s no telling what they’re going to do. Until then, it’s back to reading Mashable and waiting to see what happens.