The News Is NowPublic: Cit-J Site Sold To Anschutz

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You’re reading it here first: After several months of trying to get the deal done, Citizen-J site NowPublic is about to be sold to a non-traditional buyer: local news network Examiner.com, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group, we have learned. The price is around $25 million range, according to a source, including a part of that as an earnout. Also from a source, the other potential buyers included AP, Fox News, Glam Media and even Technorati, though not clear who all were interested in late stages.

Vancouver-based NowPublic started in 2005 by Canadian entrepreneur Leonard Brody, and has raised about $12 million from investors such as Rho Ventures, Brightspark and the Working Opportunity Fund.

Clarity is the owner of Washington D.C. Examiner, The San Francisco Examiner and the Independent newspapers, and owns Examiner.com, the network of local sites in the cities it operates in. Although Examiner.com similarly focuses on citizen journalism, it has little in common with NowPublic. NowPublic has citizen reporters in 140 countries, while its new parent claims to have 13,000 “examiners” (its name for its citizen journos) in 20 markets across the U.S. At a time of sliding ad revenues, and increased interest in citizen-journalism, the timing certainly seems right for a combo.

The deal comes a few months after a management shake-up at Examiner, when after one year in the CEO seat, former *AOL* exec Michael Sherrod was replaced by Rick Blair, another former AOL (NYSE: TWX) alum who had worked on AOL Digital Cities.

The deal, which we first heard about in May, comes amid some notable movements in locally focused online news. In just the last two weeks, Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) shuttered its hyperlocal citizen-j project, LoudonExtra, while MSNBC.com bought neighborhood news network Everyblock. Around the same time, AOL’s local news play Patch just added two new sites under its umbrella.

The banker on the deal from NowPublic’s side was Mesa, coincidentally also the banker on our sale to the Guardian Media Group last year; Mesa also repped Mog for its recent $5 million fund raise.

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