The aim of ZipList has always been to work with the big food media brands, powering their digital recipe boxes and grocery list apps. Now it gets to work closely with one of the biggest food brands of them all, Condé Nast. The publishing giant today announced it has acquired ZipList for an undisclosed amount (though AllThingsD pegs it at $14 million), linking the startup with some of the biggest food titles both on and off the Web.
Condé Nast owns the magazine Bon Appétit, the extremely popular food cooking and lifestyle portal Epicurious as well as the Gourmet brand, which no longer exists as a print magazine but lives on as a Web publication and in TV programming and cookbooks. Though Condé Nast didn’t detail its exact plans to integrate ZipList’s universal recipe box service into its own Web portals, it appears to be letting the company maintain its independent status for the time being. Here’s the statement issued by Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg:
“This acquisition enables Condé Nast to deliver on our commitment to marry quality content and innovative technology, giving unprecedented scale as we focus on creating additional revenue streams in the digital space. … Our goal is to build ZipList as an independent company while collaborating with our food brands to integrate its core technology, and to create partnerships that allow other companies to do the same.”
Like other recipe clipping apps, ZipList allows its users to grab dish ideas they find on different food sites and store them in a digital recipe box. The difference is ZipList doesn’t view itself as a destination site or portal like Paprika or KeepRecipes. Instead it acts as the recipe-saving service and grocery list-generating app for 6,500 food sites and blogs. But rather than keep those recipes and lists trapped in thousands of different mutually exclusive recipe boxes, ZipList has made its box universal, accessible through the same login credentials on any partners’ sites as well as its own Web portal.
That puts Condé Nast in a somewhat awkward position. Presumably it will add ZipList’s universal recipe box to Epicurious and its other Web properties, which means customers will be aggregating and accessing its competitors’ recipes from within Condé Nast’s sites. Likewise, some of Condé Nast’s biggest rivals in the food biz — MarthaStewart.com for one — use ZipList’s service. If they continue to work with ZipList they will do so knowing they’re supporting one of their biggest competitors in food and lifestyle media. It will be interesting to see how Condé Nast walks this line.
Condé Nast’s Sauerberg and Martha Stewart Living president and COO Lisa Gersh will both be appearing at paidContent 2012, May 23 in New York City.