Michael Wolff has an opinion on pretty much everything. Does that make him right? No. Does his take matter more than someone else’s? Not really, my friend. But because he talks/writes a lot about media, we end up paying attention. Wolff’s latest target is Business Insider, the business and technology site edited by Henry Blodget. Wolff says it’s time for BI to sell. Before it’s too late.
According to Wolff, BI wants $100 million in cash, and that’s just not going to happen. He says BI should sell for less and do it now, because relying on digital ad dollars to support a business isn’t a good idea:
BI‘s 10 million uniques likely yield something near 40 million page views a month, which would be a $3 CPM (cost per thousand views), hardly setting even the abysmally low online CPM world on fire. In fact, comScore tends to undercount by almost half, so it could be more like 20 million uniques with 80 million page views and a CPM across the site of $1.50. (In the not-too-distant past, business magazines could easily do $30 or $40 CPMs.) It’s digging in hard dirt.
Wolff goes on to explain that even native advertising won’t work to keep BI afloat, because “that’s a general lowering of editorial look and feel and credibility, which, in turn, demands greater and greater traffic pumping, which, in the vicious circle, means ramped-up content production of inevitably lower value.”
The sale of BI has been a hot topic lately. When Blodgett and Nick Denton, Gawker’s founder, discussed a possible merger, the rumors kicked into high gear. However, there apparently wasn’t anything to those talks.
Does Wolff’s two cents on the subject amount to anything? When we asked Blodget via Twitter if Wolff was right that it was time to sell, he simply replied “Michael was very nice to me! I appreciate that.” The rumor mill continues to grind.