Free Encyclopedia of Ecommerce » Free Encyclopedia of Ecommerce » Inc Ziff-Davis - Magazine Publishing Business Becomes Ziff Davis Media, Inc., Computer And Technical Portal, Zdnet, Computer Cable Channel, Zdtv

Inc Ziff-Davis - Computer And Technical Portal, Zdnet

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Before it was acquired by CNET, ZDNet was Ziff-Davis's online service and Internet portal. It was launched in 1995 and hosted electronic editions of Ziff-Davis's magazines. It began accepting advertising in April 1995. For 1996 ZDNet had revenue of $10.2 million. With its high-quality technical news and information, ZDNet was often ranked as the top news, information, and entertainment site on the Internet. In 1997 technology media company CMP Media launched a competing site, TechWeb. For the next two years, ZDNet's revenue increased, from $32.2 million in 1997 to $56.1 million in 1998, but it failed to turn a profit. Parent company Ziff-Davis decided to spin off ZDNet as a separate company in 1999 and offer it as a tracking stock.

When ZDNet was spun off from Ziff-Davis at the end of March 1999, it was losing money and contributing about 2 percent of its parent company's revenue. ZDNet's initial public offering raised $190 million, which Ziff-Davis planned to use to pay down its debt. Following the IPO, Ziff-Davis retained an 83 percent ownership interest in ZDNet.

Later in 1999 ZDNet debuted its redesigned Web site, which made it easier for users to navigate the 60 Web sites in its network. The portal's more than 30 channel headings were consolidated under 10 categories. ZDNet, which featured software downloads as well as news and information, had nearly 500 advertisers. When competing portal CNET launched a $100 million advertising campaign, ZDNet responded with its own $25 million branding campaign that launched on December 30, 1999.

With parent company Ziff-Davis shedding its other business units in 1999, it was decided to eliminate ZDNet's tracking stock in early 2000 and revive it as ordinary common stock. Through a technical merger with a newly formed subsidiary, Ziff-Davis would emerge as the surviving company and adopt the ZDNet name. All of this appeared to be a preliminary move to the mid-2000 sale of ZDNet to its much larger rival, CNET, for $1.6 billion. Following CNET's acquisition of ZDNet, CNET continued to operate ZDNet as a separate brand. According to CNET, CNET and ZDNet had 16.6 million monthly unique users and reached 22 percent of all Internet users. Before the acquisition, Media Metrix figures for January 2000 showed that ZDNet had more than 10 million unique visitors while its ad campaign was running, compared to 9.5 million for CNET. Internationally, ZDNet had syndicated operations in 23 countries and was accessible in 15 languages. Toward the end of 2000 it established an office in Miami, Florida, as a base for expansion into Latin America.

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