Less than two months after talking up the turnaround at Dow Jones-IAC (NSDQ: IACI) personal finance JV FiLife, paidContent has learned the site’s continued existence is no certainty. It survived the multiple trimmings as Barry Diller cut back on IAC’s portfolio of emerging businesses, but the company is now exploring options that range from leaving it open to a sale or a full shut down. When Ezra Kucharz, president and GM for just over a year, left for CBS (NYSE: CBS) in January, both IAC and DJ credited him publicly with turning around the site and building it to the #4 personal finance site with 4.4 million unique visitors in December. Now both companies are declining comment about the site’s future.
One possibility for IAC could be selling its stake to Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS), which recently bought out SmartMoney partner Hearst. But that’s a well-established brand with an 800,000-circ magazine. Whether DJ would even want to own FiLife outright is unclear — as is whether a deal actually would involve much money. What FiLife does have — more traffic than SmartMoney.com, where personal finance is just one category, and a digital mentality. Is there a way to combine the two?
FiLife has had a bit of a tortured life from its beginning: taking more than a year to move from an idea to a blog, then taking so long to emerge from that status the plans appeared to be dormant. Dave Kansas, brought in from the Wall Street Journal to launch the site, was replaced by online vet Kucharz in late 2008. Adam Wiener, executive editor and VP-content was promoted to GM when Kucharz left, but not given the title of president.
It’s made strides on the editorial side. Just last month FastCompany picked it as the most innovative company in the finance area for using “a Q&A format with a host of social and game-like features to get Americans talking about money. More as warranted — and please feel free to e-mail me if you have details.