Black and White Program

New York Times Company said it has sold its how-to website About.com

August 27th, 2012 by Kyle Rankin

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In a continued effort to divest itself of residual businesses, shed losing assets, and focus on its core publications, New York Times Company $NYT said it has sold its how-to website About.com to the owners of Ask.com. $300 million in cash is the reported transaction amount that IAC/InterActiveCorp.$IACI (a Barry Diller company) paid for the internet property. Times Co. has owned About.com since 2005 when it paid $410 million for what was then a unique content specific site designed to provide direct answers to questions that internet users were typing into Google’s search feature. In July of this year, the company wrote down $195 million on the value of its investment in the site.

Other competing bids were from Answers.com in which $270 million was agreed to in a preliminary deal before somehow the deal got away from the company. The transaction is reportedly scheduled for completion in the last month of the third quarter.

ComScore estimates that for the 2nd quarter of 2012, Ask.com had approximately 87 million unique monthly visitors, while About.com racked up about 52 million. About.com’s traffic was hindered over the years by reported changes that Google made to its search Algorithm. Media reports show the combined audience (when allowing for non-duplicate visitors) for the two sites would make it the No. 6 web property, behind American Online (AOL) but ahead of Amazon.

Further divestitures are expected from Times Co. as it tries to reduce debt and operating losses at some of its publishing properties, while also boosting the strength of its balance sheet.

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