When it comes to the Internet, it would be hard to call News Corp. timid. The conglomerate has as rich a history of online business endeavors as any other media company out there. Unfortunately, it’s a prolonged history of failure.
In fact, News Corp. at one point owned one of the first companies to provide people access to the Internet (Delphi Internet Services) before letting its customer base languish and ultimately selling it back to some of its founders. A few years later News Corp. burned millions on iGuide, a Web portal produced in conjunction with partner MCI that famously bombed. As the online ad market began heating up by the mid-2000s, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch seemed to be wising up to the fact that the Web was indeed a different kind of medium, as he snatched up the red-hot social networking property MySpace for $580 million. Then something called Facebook came along.
More recently, Murdoch (who once called Facebook the “flavor of the month”) has been railing against Google, while trying to turn back the clock in the newspaper business by installing pay walls on his Web sites. Soon, News Corp. will unveil The Daily, a subscription newspaper for tablet devices like the iPad. The company is said to be hiring 100 journalists and spending $30 million. Will The Daily succeed? It’s certainly possible. As noted by The New York Times: “Few large media companies have had as many false starts on the Internet as the News Corporation.” And that was an article written in 1997.