AllThingsD cutting ties with Dow Jones; Will Comcast's NBCU take stake in successor?

Tom Paine

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AllThingsD is cutting its ties with Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones (News Corp) and is setting out on a new course and seeking new partners.

Dow Jones confirmed on Thursday that AllThingsD principals Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg were not renewing their contract with Dow Jones after this year. The AllThingsD brand remains property of Dow Jones, presumably unless it is acquired through some type of transaction.

Fortune (which broke the story) reported that Swisher and Mossberg were talking to potential investors about taking minority stakes in their new venture, and Comcast's NBCU was the primary one mentioned, although others are said to be interested as well.

In spite of its prominence in tech circles, the franchise itself is valued at between $30 and $40 million, and AllThingsD generates about $12 million in annual revenue, according to reports. The bulk of revenue and profits comes from its conferences. So an investment in Swisher & Mossberg's new venture would not be a big deal for NBCU financially. Another investor could concievably be a more traditional news website (somehow the Washington Post under its new owner comes to mind), or a financial investor. The ownership of the existing conference formats remains somewhat up in the air.

The AllThingsD team could be a nice brand extension for NBCU's CNBC business channel. Also I would suppose the possibility exits for a dedicated digital channel for tech news, more likely Over The Top rather than as part of a cable package. Of course, Comcast once owned TechTV before turning it into G4 (which just barely escaped being turned into the Esquire Network), though my fleeting memories of TechTV were that it was more focused on personal technology users than tech business news.

Walt Mossberg will discontinue his personal technology column in the Journal, which he was writing long before AllThingsD got started. Mossberg and Swisher are said to be principal owners of the ongoing corporation, with AllThingsD staffers under contract to that corporation, not the Journal. Swisher and Mossberg are eager to add more resources that they felt constrained from doing under the Dow Jones relationship, and expanding video production. Dow Jones also says it has plans to significantly boost its technology coverage.

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