About.com Up For Sale… Again?

from the what-a-waste dept

It appears that Primedia is looking to sell About.com. Primedia, of course, seriously overpaid for About.com a few years back and then did very little with it, other than to make it less and less useful, on the theory that if they put more and more ads on it, it would somehow pay for itself, rather than driving users away. Especially in an age of blogs, the whole reason for About.com seems to make less and less sense. However, apparently some people think it’s actually worth between $350 and $500 million — which is almost scary. The article says that Google, Yahoo, AskJeeves, the New York Times (who, it appears, broke the story) and AOL are all bidding for the site. Of course, Google already supplies ads to the site (they bought About’s advertising service a while back) so it may be a protective move. Still, isn’t it interesting that search engines and media plays are bidding on the same property? It certainly suggests the business model convergence that’s happening between media and search these days. Either way, if they were smart, they’d save their money. The various attempts at blogging “media empires” are probably much cheaper, and a better long term deal.

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Comments on “About.com Up For Sale… Again?”

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Dianne Strother - sister to an About Guide and Pro says:

About.com buyout

Mike said “Especially in an age of blogs, the whole reason for About.com seems to make less and less sense.” Looks like Mike doesn’t really know the difference between a blog post written by someone with a passing interest in a topic and an article that has been thoroughly researched by an expert in that field. Take Jennifer Emick, the Guide to Alternative Religions, for example. She’s not someone who has dabbled in different religions. She is an ordained non-denominational minister. Then there’s Mary Landesman, the Guide to Antivirus Software. She’s not just somebody who survived a computer virus and has some comments about what worked for her, she has worked in tech support, quality assurance, and product management. Vincent Iannelli, the Pediatrics Guide is a real-live, honest-to-God MD. William Perez, the Tax Guide, has worked for the IRS. Wendy Bumgardner, the Walking Guide is a Certified marathon coach, RRCA and ASEP. The list of professionals that run the sites at About could go on and on.
Mike may be interested in getting his tax advice from some guy who knows how to file a couple of forms and made a blog post about it. He may prefer to learn about how to train for a marathon from someone who runs and blogs than from a certified coach. He may even decide that getting advice on how to treat his kid’s illnesses from someone who had a child with a similar condition and blogged it is a better choice than reading something from a Pediatrician. That just shows me that he doesn’t have very much common sense! For me, I’ll stick to the experts at About! Their advice has proven to be good time and time again – unlike Mike – who has some pretty strange ways of looking at things.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: About.com buyout

Um. Yeah, all blogs are written by non-experts? Seems like someone’s generalizing a little too heavily. I never said that you should blindly trust blogs, but it seems like blogs that *are* written by experts tend to be a lot more useful, accurate, interesting AND readable than the stuff at About.com. The point isn’t that there is no useful info at About.com, but just that it’s poorly organized and that if you can find a similar blog written by an expert, it tends to be much more useful.

However, if you want to insult me and make insinuations that simply aren’t true, that really helps me take you seriously.

Jason says:

Perhaps you don't know how to use a website?

There’s far more to About.com than blogs- there’s also loads of content- tons of practical advice, crafts, books, games, how-to Guides, patterns, maps, homework help, guitar lessons, decorating tips, dictionaries, recipes, diagnostic info for diseases, even pregnancy calendars- and all of it free! The blog that can do a thousandth of what I can find at About hasn’t been invented yet.

Shane- About.com Asthma Guide says:

About.com Sale

Ok so you feel insulted by some of the comments made here regarding your original post. Frankly, your orignal post was a bit insulting to the about.com staff. We work hard to give useful content to our site users, and we do one hell of a job. Being a top 15 web property speaks for itself. Also the “some people” that think the property is worth $350 to $500 million are some of the biggest players in the media industry online or off. Who is more likely to be right, them or you? If you don’t like feeling insulted, don’t insult us by trivializing what we do and the service that we offer our users.
Can you at times find info on the many topics the guides at about.com write on elsewhere, that may be better suited to you needs at the time? I’m sure you can, I certainly found more useful and non-demeaning information on the buyout on sites other than this. I guess it really depends on what you are looking for. About’s success stands on its own and we don’t need you or anyone else to validate the worth of the company or the worth of the staff. The opinion that ultimately matters is that of our many users, 20 million of them to be exact. They see value in About.com. That is the ultimate valuation of any site if you ask me, the opinions of the users. Not the opinions industry experts, CEO’s or Staff. The users are what counts.

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