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David Poland

By David Poland

Who Should Buy Whom? – Episode One

On the sad, but inevitable occasion of the official end of Conde Nast

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14 Responses to “Who Should Buy Whom? – Episode One”

  1. Wrecktum says:

    Who should buy whom.

  2. David –
    Thanks for the kind words about Reverse Shot! We also feel the site is idiotic, but smartly conceived. However, I should correct you on one point: Reverse Shot is an independently owned company and not a subsidiary of the media conglomerate that is indieWIRE.
    For those out there looking for a whippersnapper critic farm team, we will, of course, consider any offers.
    Jeff Reichert
    Reverse Shot

  3. I’m surprised you see any value at all in the new Moveline.

  4. David Poland says:

    Thanks, Wreck… corrected.
    Interesting, Jeff… all the more reason for someone to buy you guys.
    And Kris, the talent at Movieline 2.0 is more worthwhile than the work they did at Defamer and often, than they are doing now. This is true of many outlets. There are all kinds of writers who are working below their highest intelligence these days… and really, forever. Old Media was not the best at getting the most out of the best very often either.
    You should be getting a call from Sharon Waxman within hours, by the way. She’s going to be stuck chasing Oscar dollars this fall and needs a draw… and has already been turned down by at least one known name. Sadly, the Brave New World is stuck going after the Same Old Dollars.

  5. Martin S says:

    I thought Finke was HuffPo bound? Or would that make Huffy’s tabloidism too blatant?
    You’re right about USA Today. Needs a major overhaul.
    NYT isn’t going to do anything except suck wind and hope some uber-sucker comes along and dumps a boatload off at the front door.
    The major question for any of the listed mergers, is money. Can Variety afford to take the chance on buying a Hitfixx? What exactly is the value? I can see THR and MCN merging because they need the adaptation and MCN needs the the growth step. It would have to be partnership, limited upfront capital by THR with incentives based on performance. This way MCN keeps control and ownership and THR limits risk.
    FWIW, I think we’re going to see Variety, LAT, NYT, etc…wait and go for the low hanging fruit. And don’t count Slate out. They’ve got to do something or WaPo will have a decision to make.

  6. I think one of these majors should buy Mendelson’s Memos, but that’s just me.

  7. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP great post. Would also appreciate some value estimates of these possible purchases as there seems to be many variables to consider.
    I like the fact that MOVIELINE is back and especially that they’re making old content available again. What are the overheads for these blogger type sites anyway?
    You say purchase HITFIX for Variety but major sites like to keep a uniform to their appearance and interface. I’m not sure how it could be integrated without existing as a standalone site with them.
    Since traffic is debatable on so many fronts. Can we see a list of you about these possible pickups in order of influence and value?

  8. David Poland says:

    If some of these outlets wait for low-hanging fruit – which they have chosen to do before, to no success – then they may well become low hanging fruit.
    Certainly, the future of both trades – whether they will be publishing as dailies at this time next year – will be determined before September is over.

  9. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP you couldn’t go one thread without bagging Friedman could you.. “low hanging fruit”… sheesh give the guy a break !

  10. mysteryperfecta says:

    I’m not sure the NY Times is in a position to buy jack squat. Ditto for USA Today. And the LA Times. These companies are hemmoraging readers, and revenue. I’m not sure how anxious they’d be to invest in and expand their online component, while their primary revenue generator is in such dire straights.

  11. David Poland says:

    JBD… I don’t think values of these sites are easily quantifiable, which is why all these sites are buyable.
    Almost every major buy of a content site has been based on revenues. None of these sites have enough revenue to make them terribly expensive. But like the NFL draft, the value of the talent involved and what they do – not necessarily the traffic they now get or the buzz they generate – is what is important in any pick-up at this level.
    For instance, Nikki’s vanity is much bigger than her revenue stream… but she is worth more than a traditional multiple of her revenue generation if you want to generate the kind of attention she creates. On the other hand, buying a business with a decent revenue stream already established can be dangerous because the merge of two entities in a similar niche can create smaller buys than the two separate buys. None of this is as simple as counting eyeballs… because it is a specialized business, whether we like it or not.
    And Mystery, the papers in question, like studios in trouble that still spend on marketing their movies because there is no choice, have money and spend money. None of these companies – except the NYT, to some extent – has shown the ability to build viable web entities from scratch. So while that would be better, if it isn’t viable, then spending a little more to get what they need to have in place to survive the next wave is cheap by comparison.
    In other words, if it costs you $10 million a year to keep things going and the revenues to cover that cost keep getting closer to that number and then become less than that number is bad business.
    If you have to cut $2 million in current costs to spend $1 million to buy a web breakfront, you are better off doing that. The alternative is fighting to keep the status quo and eventually being wheedled down to a $5 million a year business… or, perhaps, no business at all.

  12. LYT says:

    Someone should buy me. I come cheap.
    LexG too.

  13. mysteryperfecta says:

    I’m not arguing with your suggestions. Each may have the result of strengthening online presence. But to a considerable degree? Enough to make a real difference?
    Circulation is down. Ad revenue is down. Web traffic has trended up, but online ad revenue STILL FELL. According to, only 1.7% of web traffic visits Assuming the successful implementation of your suggestions, what can they bump that up to?
    Cutting $2 million in costs to spend $1 million to buy a web breakfront may pay off, relatively speaking, but we are talking about The New York Times, who is a BILLION DOLLARS in the red. Perhaps your NY Times section should have included a small preface stating: “Step 1: Unprecedented overhaul. Now, The Paper of Record is doing pretty well in…” 🙂

  14. David Poland says:

    I am put in mind of Citizen Kane 2009… “And if I lost $1 billion a year, every year, I’ll be out of business in… 6 years.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon