Over the last week some surprising publishers have been snapped up by larger companies for what appears to be some monetary victories for the publishers. I’m not sure why it’s surprising, beyond the fact that I don’t think there were many rumors about these companies, and it’s an eclectic mix that seems to point towards a general trend in a particular hot industry.
Here’s the deals announced over the past week:
Discovery buys Treehugger for $10 million – A single blog that grew into a community with forums and more, but $10 million seems pretty solid for a blog in a specific industry. Although it is a very important and growing industry.
Disney buys Club Penguin for $350 Million or More? – This one looks really bizarre if you had no background on Club Penguin. However, it’s an insanely popular site with kids. One has to wonder though, how long will penguins be the cool virtual pet for kids? Apparently there are earnouts in this deal to the tune of another $350 million. Without really doing much analysis, it feels like Club Penguin’s founders are sitting back laughing they sold a site about being a penguin for at least $350 million.
Handheld Buys Ebaum’s World for $15 million or More? – Another deal that has more earnouts with performance goals. Ebaum’s has been around forever, so you’d wonder why they’d be selling now? And are they kicking themselves they could have been YouTube but just missed out on a few basic things?
Rumor: Sparkpeople to sell for $75 Million – Doesn’t look like this one is confirmed yet, but I’d never heard of Sparkpeople. Apparently it’s the third-largest dieting site. Good for them.
Then we also have publisher success like Markus Frind of PlentyofFish who has long been a proponent of growing independently and not building out a huge business. He’s either announcing he’s for sale as well now, or is really serious about going from a one-man operation to a full-fledged company with employees and a sales team.
What does this recent activity mean? Are we in a bubble where publishers are taking advantage and selling for a crazy premium? To some it seems that way, but in other ways you wonder what would happen if the publishers continued to hold out and grow their business even more. Some of the publishers who sold out back in the early part of this decade would be worth far more today had the stayed independent. At the same time, I think it’s never black and white and in many cases depends on the particular situation each publisher finds themselves in. Can they grow more on their own? Are there more advantages that a bigger parent company can provide to further their mission?
Unfortunately I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s a great time to be a successful web publisher. You can potentially find a solid offer for your business if you wish to be acquired, or you can keep on growing and building. It’s still a very young industry.