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Updated: In a doubleheader announcement meant to move the needle on Rupert Murdoch’s ambitious paid content plans, News Corp has acquired the Skiff e-reading platform from the Hearst startup and is joining forces with Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz through a stake in their start-up Journalism Online.
The Skiff acquisition is strictly the e-reading platform and IP, not the device, suggesting an end to that aspect. Murdoch has said in the past he was interested in an e-reader or tablet but each time the idea was downplayed by other News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). execs; the company isn’t changing course now. The e-reading platform was designed to work across devices, not only on Skiff’s own hardware, and plays to News Corp.’s increased efforts across platforms. News Corp. owns the name; Hearst is still trying to sell the hardware.
As for Journalism Online, it is my understanding that News Corp. will have roughly the same stake as previously undisclosed investors Jim and David Ottaway and co-founders Crovitz, Brill and Leo Hindery, Jr. (The former newspaper publishers sold their chain to Dow Jones before it was acquired by News Corp.) Jon Housman, newly appointed president of News Corp.