Did Google Really Seriously Consider Buying A Stake In The NY Times?

from the seems-doubtful dept

Fortune has a story that's getting plenty of attention claiming that Google "seriously considered" an opportunity to purchase 19% of the NY Times that is being held by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners. Of course, no one seems to explain why Google would seriously consider such an investment. It seems like any analysis, whether serious or not, would suggest that such an investment would make almost no sense for Google, and almost certainly would cause more trouble than it was worth. It would, for example, freak out other newspapers, who despite their sudden desire to get Google to fund them, would claim that Google was unfairly favoring the NY Times at their expense. It would also raise all sorts of questions about how Google runs a content play. While Google has experimented with content plays with things like Knol, the company's focus has always been on enabling content creation -- not on funding content itself. In fact, it's this fundamental misunderstanding that has newspapers incorrectly thinking Google is trying to kill them, rather than recognizing it's actually helping them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mike FM, May 12th, 2009 @ 1:48am

    Hurting newspapers

    It would more likely hurt Google to kill off newspapers than it would help them.

    And is it just me, or would someone like Google owning a large stake in the NY Times cause a world of issues?

    Maybe Google just don't want the NY Times to disappear, simple as that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Comboman, May 12th, 2009 @ 4:35am

    Wait for the fire sale.

    If you really want to buy a newspaper, wait about 6 months. I guarantee the price will be a fraction of what it is now.

     

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  3.  
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    fishbane, May 12th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Meh, I don't see it as that surprising. It seems like exactly the sort of contrary opportunism that Google would entertain. Given the option and positioning (and piles of cash) they have, were I they, I'd try to think it through, too - why not? Seems like they came to the same conclusion your (and my) gut says - Bad Idea on several dimensions - but thinking through the idea that there might be something Google could add value to is something they'd think through.

     

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  4.  
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    Thom Thumbh, May 12th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    Geffen, not Google.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Sean Henry, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    Re:

    It could be cool if Google bought part of NY times and a few other papers. Most of the articles are the same so they could be reused (saves $). Then by having a section on the website where articles from other papers could submit articles and receive payment for the articles. This would allow for the paper to have a main section (NY Times) and a local section that would be inserted depending on where the paper is being delivered.

    Google would still have the news search still be the same.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    Geffen, not Google.

    Let's quote from the article:

    "Scott Galloway, a Web entrepreneur and New York University Business School professor who is one of two Harbinger appointees on the Times board, made an overture to Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) co-founder Larry Page about Google buying the Times Co. Even though Google CEO Eric Schmidt has publicly lamented the state of the newspaper industry and dismissed the notion of Google investing in it, people involved said the company looked seriously at the opportunity before deciding to pass."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Google can afford to wait. The NY Time is dropping in value with each passing day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Joe, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    It's Political

    Anyone who paid attention last year knows that, unfortunately, Google swings to the left. Remember how they refused to accept John McCain's defensive political ads?

    I'm no McCain fan but clearly the right has a sneaky new monster enemy if this purchase goes through.

    Do no evil huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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