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Topix: Stalking Horse for Print's Blog Ambitions

TopixHow much is a blogging business worth?

Let's take a look at Topix, which yesterday announced the sale of 75% of their equity to Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune. These are the same companies that were initial investors in @Home, a cable modem company that I helped found while I was an employee at TCI Technology Ventures. The Motley Fool reviewed the deal, with Topix having US$1 million in revenues last year. Nine employees who haven't received salaries since they founded the company in 2002. 1.4 million unique visitors on a site that's been up for about a year.

In comparison, About.com and its for 21.8 million unique visitors went to the New York Times organization for US$410 million. Both companies have advanced ad-serving capabilities, lean staffs and are basically just above break-even.

If you're looking at unique visitors and comparable transactions for valuation, you're probably barking up the wrong tree...it's highly doubtful that Topix sold for anywhere near US$26 million. Instead, think of the newspaper industry's cost of maintaining newsrooms and what they get for that investment.

The visionaries at Topix.net give the newspaper industry a chance at co-opting the blogging movement without risking damage to the flagship print brands. That's the value, and if they're successful, the 25 percent held by Topix employees and investors will be quite worthwhile indeed.


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