Blog Post

VeriSign Exits Mobile Content; Sells Remaining Stake In JV To News Corp For $200 Million

VeriSign’s (NSDQ: VRSN) effort to capitalize on mobile content through its acquisition of Jamba is officially over. VeriSign tried to keep skin in the game through a JV with News Corp (NYSE: NWS). selling 51 percent in May 2007 for $187.5 million and a merger with Fox Mobile Entertainment. Today, the two companies said VeriSign has sold its remaining 49 percent to News Corp for approximately $200 million, suggesting that the value of the JV, which has struggled with leadership and strategic issues, has been static at best. VeriSign’s sale has been expected for months given the company’s switch to a core focus on internet infrastructure.

VeriSign acquired German mobile content company Jamba in 2004 for $273 million. The acquisition was part of a strategy by former CEO Stratton Sclavos that stretched far beyond infrastructure to mobile entertainment, the real-time web and more. VeriSign spokeswoman Lisa Malloy declined to discuss specifics of the company’s overall financial performance with Jamba but said of the enterprise: “Our involvement in mobile content helped us recognize what we’re good at.” Why not just stay in the JV as a minority? “We’re laser-focused on our three businesses (identity and authentication, SSL and naming).”

Rafat adds: We have been expecting this for a while…with VeriSign wanting to get out and Jamba’s ownership structure, this was the only logical deal at this point. Doesn’t mean News Corp may not turn around and try and sell it at some point, especially since Jamba for all intents and purposes is a European company now, and can be disposed off to a local player there. Jamba has gone through a meteoric rise an fall over the last few years, first zooming into prominence around the Crazy Frog ringtone, and then becoming mired in billing controversies and regulatory issues in multiple countries including its biggest Euro market UK. With the bottom falling out of the ringtone market, so did its fortunes since then.

Disclosure: VeriSign has been a sponsor of