Why Mediabistro.com’s sale is a big deal for B2B ‘conversational media’ ventures

I typically do not blog about media transactions, however I wanted to explain why I believe the purchase of Mediabistro.com by Jupitermedia, as reported in the New York Times is very important to two types of readers of this weblog — tech media types and B2B media types:

1. Mediabistro is a pure-play, online business-to-business media company that was started as a small-business (i.e., not originally conceived as a well-funded venture-backed strategy in the mode of, say, Tech Target). It was started as a forum, a community, a set of conversational media tools and approaches designed to “host participants” rather than “provide content for” readers.

2. Even though “community” was its original content, it makes money the old-fashioned B2B media way: content drives creation of strong brand which is “monetized” through events, services and data. (The early coverage is focusing on job-listings, which I’m sure are profitable, but I’m guessing conferences and events — online and off — are very significant revenue generation engines.) If I need to spell it out more clearly, this is the business model of such business-to-business new-media companies as PaidContent.org, TechCrunch and, even, Chris Pirillo — a walking, talking, 24/7 B2B media man/brand.

3. Mediabistro is a B2B media company that proves one thing that has also been proven by certain business-to-business media companies that started as events, conference or trade-show businesses: You don’t always need a print product to serve as the center of a business-to-business media brand. You don’t need a print product to anchor the community. If you don’t get anything from this post and what I have to say, please note this: Mediabistro.com is a B2B media company where the community is the heart of the brand. The company is successful because they haven’t paid “lip service” to the notion of community — but have viewed their role as being “hosts” of their readers, users, members, subscribers and advertisers. They supplied the venue and reasons for people to get together, but the people are what’s making them a success.

I haven’t read any professional expert analysis of this transaction, so I don’t know how it’s being spun by the pundits. However, from my vantage point as an informed, yet in-the-bleachers-spectator, I think this is a significant “deal” and validation of a lot of people’s vision and hardwork that may look easy from the outside, but is remarkably difficult to achieve.

The content part of B2B media is a snap when compared to the difficulty in achieving that which is collectively termed community.

Later: Okay, after looking over some of the early blog posts and analysis, I’d like to note a couple of things. The valuation of Mediabistro.com is not linked to “site visits” — as some people who are trying to equate it with a content or social-media platform are trying to do. Mediabistro.com is as much about “off line” revenue-generation, as it is jobs-listings…and page-views are probably one of the least significant sources of its revenues. While this is a web-based media company, it is not a “website” that is being valued on its page views. Second, so-what if the business has been actively “for sale” for two years and has been “looked at” by everyone and his or her brother. Every business is “for sale” from the moment it is created — so, she’s been working on selling the company for over a decade. That said, that it only takes two years of selling something to get an eight-figure check is, well, words like miraculous and inspiring spring to mind. I know I’m awed.

About Rex Hammock

Founder/ceo of Hammock Inc., the customer media and content company based in Nashville, Tenn. Creator of and head-helper at SmallBusiness.com.
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  • http://www.paidcontent.org Rafat

    Rex, i do agree with you on the valuation=site visits part…that is a very silicon valley flipppant way of looking at this. and yes, now i piss of valley types.

  • Rex Hammock

    Thanks, Rafat. One day, you’ll be reporting on your own version of such a B2B transaction story.

  • http://www.smallbiztrends.com Anita Campbell

    Rex, this is an excellent analysis of the new media startups using the Web. I agree, especially, with the part about the difficulty of creating community. Sometimes there are quick hits, but usually it takes years to build.

    Anita

  • http://www.mediabistro.com/ Dylan Stableford

    Rex, this is very fair analysis of why the company I work for was sold for $23 million. It’s tough to take that what I do — I manage all the news stuff and blogs like TVNewser, FishbowlNY, DC, LA, Unbeige, GalleyCat and AgencySpy — is a bit of an afterthought in terms of this sale (NYT Headline: Web Site for Job Seekers Is Sold), but it’s growing exponentially, so those Valley types — and the Times, for that matter, can eat it.

  • Rex Hammock

    Sorry Dylan, when I posted, “content drives creation of strong brand which is “monetized” through events, services and data,” I should have stuck with my original version of that sentence that went something like, “quality content like that Dylan Stableford consistently dishes out at FishbowlNY drives creation of strong brand….”