In 2008, Rafat Ali sold ContentNext media--the company behind paidContent.org--to UK-based Guardian News and Media, Co. for a reported $30 million. He left the company in 2010, and now Guardian is looking for a buyer for the property. Based in New York City, the company covers the business of digital media, serving decision makers within the media, entertainment, publishing, advertising, marketing, and technology sectors.
According to Ali and the Twitterverse there are two unnamed but logical buyers for the company, with existing products in the blog and conference arenas. For many regular readers, putting paidContent back into the hands of a smaller company would be a huge step forward. Even Ali, asked about potential buyers, Tweeted: "...anywhere large it will get lost, like at guardian."
"paidContent has never been a property that a big company could understand--meaning that, in its early days, its charm for media and entertainment professionals was Rafat's ability to mine his deep rolodex of digital media players (particularly in Los Angeles) for information and insights in advance of the bigger publications," says Rich Hull, film producer, advisor to major studios, and contributor to Dancing With Digital Natives: Staying in Step With the Generation That's Transforming the Way Business Is Done. "More recently, however, there's been a perception among many readers that paidContent now just reprints press releases and stories several days after they've broken elsewhere. At this point, many people feel that startup-centric TechCrunch actually does a better job of breaking the most relevant news coming out of the LA digital media circles, despite being based in the Bay Area. So, a new small company owner for paidContent might very well revive that previous ‘boots on the ground' value that worked so well for it initially."
Some sites, including Reuters, have reported that MediaBistro is among the interested buyers, but not, apparently, for the $15-20 million asking price.