Originally published on Signal vs. Noise on December, 7 2005
As promised, many of the posts I’ll do this month will discuss my experience with the M&A process, specifically at CNET. I’ll start with a real world example by announcing CNET Networks’ acquisition of dating site Consumating.com today.
Over 6-months ago I called Ben Brown of Consumating.com to see what was happening with the site, and understand why he felt the world needed a site for “hot nerdy girls and indie rock boys with glasses”, and if the site was successfully delivering on its promise of helping people “meet interesting people”. I will tell you, I was a little nervous about the call, because looking at Ben’s Consumating profile, he describes himself as an “Internet Rockstar” and there’s a picture of him licking Malcolm Gladwell. These are usually the tell-tale signs that the entrepreneur is a complete ego-maniac or a bit crazy. Anyway, within minutes of talking to Ben, I realized that he has a great combination of confidence, experience and a fantastic sense of humor that immediately makes you like him. The rest of the team felt the same way after meeting him. We knew he would be a great fit for the organization. More importantly, he truly cares about the Consumating cause, and making sure the people who sign up for the site find a cool place to hang out and actually meet people. Consumating is about something, and something he cares about a lot – helping people meet people where they can make a meaningful relationship around the things they like, not just the statistical matching of their profile.
So why did we buy Consumating.com? Talent, brand, content and community. We truly believe that Consumating has the ability to be a fantastic brand for our 18-30 year old audience, and both our users and marketer customers will receive great value from the Consumating.com community experience. CNET cares very much about these traits, and we always try to find the right combination of talent, brand, content and community in each of our businesses- whether built or bought. Over the last few years, you may have noticed that our brands have really embraced their audience and increased the level of community offerings in their sites (See: News.com, Gamespot, MP3.com, TV.com, Bnet.com, Webshots, CNET.com, for examples).
So this is a little insight into why we have bought a small, innovative company in the dating and people connecting space. You will notice that there was no mention of tagging, Web 2.0 or other hype, er, feature-based items that drove this purchase. Consumating.com has these things, and uses them very effectively to create a unique (but easy) way to find new people. How many other sites can help you find girls into comic books, PHP and Wilco in the Chicagoland area this easily? The point is that Ben created something of value for his users, and we valued that. I believe Ben would tell you that he chose CNET as a home for Consumating because we can help him scale, give him more resouces and help him nuture and grow the brand and the community. Short version: our visions lined up, and we believe Ben and team are the right people to help us deliver on it.
Please check our Ben’s message about the acquisition to his users here. Look forward to your comments.