Guardian News & Media disclosed today that it is in discussions with a number of potential buyers about a possible sale of ContentNext Media, which publishes paidContent and several other sites.
“ContentNext has strong brands, great people and an excellent reputation, but GNM’s focus in the U.S. is on building the Guardian,” GNM’s international and business development director Stella Beaumont told the staff. “We have received expressions of interest in the company, but the sale process is still in the early stages. We are talking to a select number of potential buyers.” The company is working with the bankers Coady Diemar Partners on the possible sale.
GNM acquired ContentNext, which was founded by Rafat Ali and has chronicled the digital media business for decision-makers since 2002, for an undisclosed sum in July 2008. Guardian Media Group’s then CEO Carolyn McCall said the deal would aide the publisher’s expansion in to the media and technology verticals, and assist with its U.S. ambitions.
Since then, pursuing the latter has since become GNM’s focus. GNM aborted its first attempt to build its U.S. audience,
GuardianAmerica.com, but is currently engaged in a much larger-scale U.S. build-out, GuardianNews.com. As part of that effort, GNM has moved several British editors from London to New York, and has been hiring staff in the U.S.
ContentNext has three active sites — the flagship paidContent.org, mocoNews.net and paidContent:UK.co.uk — as well as a fourth site, contentSutra.com, that doesn’t currently have its own staff. It has 16 employees and contributors, based in the U.S.and the UK. ContentNext’s audience has grown steadily since the 2008 purchase. paidContent.org’s unique users were up more than 130 percent between October 2009 and October 2011, to 639,000, while page views were up over 38 percent, to more than 1.3 million, according to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Analytics. Across the sites, uniques grew by 71 percent, to about 808,000, and page views were up 13 percent, to more than 1.67 million. ContentNext makes its money from advertising sales and conferences, including the annual namesake paidContent event, that cover topics including mobile, entertainment and advertising.
“I’m very proud of what our talented, resourceful team does every day. We’ve enjoyed working with the Guardian, and are very excited about our next chapter,” said Caryn Whitman, the chief operating officer of ContentNext. Whitman and several other senior staff are working with GNM on the sale.