Showing posts with label Ripple6. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ripple6. Show all posts

Monday, January 31, 2011

Source: PointRoll CEO Tafler to leave March 15

In another blow to Gannett's crucial digital strategy, a source has just told me that PointRoll CEO Jason Tafler is leaving March 15. The news essentially confirms Gannett Blog reader reports in recent months about a high-level change at the advertising services subsidiary.

Tafler
Tafler has already given notice to Corporate, my source says. His exit appears in line with a final payment -- known as an earn-out -- to him and to other PointRoll top-level executives. Other senior employees also are on their way out, this source says. I've been given the name of one likely successor to Tafler, but I don't have that nailed down yet.

Tafler was named CEO in January 2008, replacing Chris Saridakis, who had been promoted to GCI chief digital officer. Saridakis, in turn, had been PointRoll's chief executive the previous three years.

GCI bought PointRoll in June 2005. Although GCI does not break out revenue figures for the company, my readers describe PointRoll as a cornerstone of GCI's overall digital portfolio. What's more, PointRoll's high-level management shakeup would follow the departure -- as yet unreported by GCI -- of the founder and CEO of consumer tracking software subsidiary Ripple6, Sang Kim.

These reports of executive changes also come as GCI failed to fill the chief digital officer spot, which Saridakis quit last spring to become CEO of the marketing subsidiary of e-commerce firm GSI Commerce.

Earlier: Post-Saridakis, pointed questions about PointRoll. Plus: In farewell, Saridakis attacks paywall strategy

Friday, September 17, 2010

PointRoll | Ripple6 unit CEO Kim appears gone

CEO and Founder Sang Kim (left) is no longer listed in the executive roster at Ripple6, his apparent departure coming four months after the Gannett subsidiary was folded into the management structure of advertising services provider PointRoll.

Several Gannett Blog readers noted Kim's absence earlier today. I've asked Ripple6 for comment.

Kim's departure would add to worries that key parts of Gannett Digital's operations are unraveling in the absence of a chief digital officer. Chris Saridakis left that post at the end of April, and has not been replaced.

Gannett bought the social media consumer tracker in November 2008. The deal was controversial because it involved buying out the 10% stake owned by Saridakis. Gannett said, however, that the purchase was made without his involvement.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Report: GCI tying PointRoll, Ripple6 closer together

Under the new plan, advertising services provider PointRoll will oversee social media consumer tracking subsidiary Ripple6, according to a new post today on technology site paidContent: "The integration will combine sales and operational efforts and tie together product offerings into a single digital marketing suite. Sang Kim (left), founder and CEO of Ripple6, will continue to oversee the division under PointRoll. Ripple6 headquarters will remain in New York."

The consolidation follows the April 30 departure of Gannett Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis, who oversaw PointRoll and Ripple6; he had been a key executive at both companies prior to being named GCI's digital chief.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earnings | Digital remains little engine that hasn't

[Digital segment revenue vs. overall revenue; figures in millions]

For the third consecutive quarter, Gannett's portfolio of digital businesses remained stuck in neutral, as it failed to boost its share of the company's overall revenue, last week's first-quarter earnings report shows.

The Digital Segment portfolio comprises digital-only businesses: CareerBuilder, PointRoll, ShopLocal, Planet Discover, Schedule Star and Ripple6. It doesn't include any revenue from, for example, websites run by the community newspapers division.

Digital is the engine of GCI's future growth, so its revenues should be growing faster than overall revenues. But its biggest business, No. 1 jobs site CareerBuilder, has been plagued in recent quarters by weak demand for employment during the deep recession, company executives have said.

Gannett created the Digital Segment as a separate accounting category with the third-quarter earnings report in 2008.

The company doesn't break out revenue figures for individual subsidiaries. Overall Digital Segment revenue in the first quarter fell 1.8%, to $141 million, vs. a bigger 4.1% decline in Gannett's $1.3 billion in overall revenue. So, digital's share of total revenue held steady at 10.6%. (See graphic, above.)

Hints at other digital revenue
We can glean a sense of newspaper and TV station digital revenues from the quarterly and annual earnings reports.

From last week's first-quarter report: Company-wide digital revenues, which include the Digital Segment and all digital revenues generated by other business segments, totaled $225.7 million for the quarter. So, subtract the $141 million in Digital Segment-only revenue from the total $225.7 million, and you get $84.7 million for other divisions, including the papers and broadcast.

From the report for all of 2009: For the full year, total digital revenue was over $925 million vs. $586.1 million for the Digital Segment alone. That means digital revenue other than from the Digital Segment was $339 million.

Earlier: Chief Digital Officer Saridakis leaving for e-commerce company post

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Urgent: Chief Digital Officer Saridakis has resigned; he leaves at end of April to 'pursue other interests'

In a blow to the Dubow team, Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis (left) is quitting after just two years in the job, according to a just-filed regulatory notice -- further underscoring the weak performance of Gannett's critical digital business portfolio.

Saridakis, 41, told the company today that he plans to leave at the end of this month to "pursue other interests," according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. His decision follows weeks of rumors that he was on the way out.

CEO Craig Dubow hired Saridakis in January 2008 as the company's first digital chief, with a mandate to ramp up non-print revenues and profits. But Gannett's regulatory filings recently revealed that businesses assigned to Saridakis had failed to meet minimum performance goals for the second consecutive year.

The company doesn't have a replacement yet for Saridakis, according to technology website paidContent, which cites a "Gannett rep."

So far, Wall Street appears unconcerned. GCI's stock traded recently for $17.65 a share, up nearly 2%, on a day when overall markets have been down.

Ahead of meeting, bad timing
Saridakis is the youngest on the powerful 12-member Gannett Management Committee. He was paid $1.3 million in 2009 compensation, including a $330,000 cash bonus. In leaving now, he surrenders a raft of stock options awarded to him this year and last, potentially worth millions of dollars.

His departure pressures Dubow at a time when online and mobile rivals are sprinting ahead. What's more, the CEO's 2008 bonus was based partly on his having hired Saridakis, that year's shareholders proxy report says.

The timing of his resignation is especially awkward for Corporate. It comes a month before the annual shareholders meeting, May 4 -- a high-profile occasion for Dubow (left) and other top officers to showcase Gannett's accomplishments.

Saridakis's tenure hasn't lacked controversy. After he was hired, Gannett bought out his stakes in advertising services firm PointRoll, where he had previously been CEO, and in consumer behavior tracker Ripple6. GCI said it gave the businesses the same scrutiny it would have paid if they were unaffiliated with the company. Still, the deals suggested Corporate was piling too many resources into Saridakis.

Last year's cryptic e-mail
Saridakis has long been the subject of rumors that he was on the verge of quitting. A year ago this month, when speculation said he was about to jump ship, Saridakis told me in a slightly cryptic e-mail: "I am still employed as the Chief Digital Officer at Gannett and continue to work with my very dedicated team to execute on our plan to grow the revenues and diversify Gannett’s businesses."

The note left me wondering about the level of enthusiasm he felt for his job.

Earlier: In Saridakis, a new generation jockeys for power

Where should Gannett head next on the digital front? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

Monday, March 01, 2010

As Tribune fades, Gannett hunts for Metromix fix

[Metromix is known for racy photos; above, Detroit Free Press]

Tribune Co., Gannett's bankrupt partner in the Metromix syndicate, has quietly backed away from the entertainment news venture known for photos of scantily clad women in nightclubs. And if one of my readers has it correct -- and they sure sound plugged-in -- Gannett hasn't had much luck finding a replacement for Tribune.

The partnership seems to have been unraveling since at least last summer, when alternative weekly Baltimore City Paper reported that Tribune's Sun was merging its Metromix site into the paper's online entertainment section. Sure enough, the Sun's Metromix site now redirects to findlocal.baltimoresun.com. When I spot-checked other Tribune newspapers, such as the Hartford Courant, I found the same switch. In all those cases, the sites look nothing like regular Metromix pages. The only sign of what they once were: the easily overlooked, "Powered by Metromix,'' off to one side.

A Tribune Co. spokesman did not respond to an e-mail I sent asking for comment. The Chicago-based company publishes The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Sun and other dailies.

Metromix has been a high-profile linchpin of Gannett's portfolio of digital ventures, which include mammoth jobs site CareerBuilder, advertising services company PointRoll and consumer behavior tracker Ripple6. Gauging Metromix's fortunes is difficult, because Gannett doesn't break out revenues for the individual companies. Instead, GCI aggregates them in the digital revenues portion of its quarterly financial reports. In the most recent, for the fourth-quarter, overall digital revenue was actually down 7.2% from the comparable quarter in 2008. That's worrisome, of course, because digital is Gannett's best shot at revving up profits.

Retreat timing a puzzle
Tribune is struggling to exit from U.S. Bankruptcy Court, after investors piled on too much debt when real estate tycoon Sam Zell (left) took the company private in 2007. For that reason, it wouldn't be surprising to see Tribune jettison ventures that aren't producing. Still, the company's retreat from Metromix is puzzling for its timing; less than three months ago, Tribune and Gannett announced a big expansion that took the entertainment sites to another 27 U.S. markets.

Gannett joined the Metromix partnership in 2007. Jack Williams, then president of Gannett Digital, said in a statement at the time: “Together we can take the established and successful Metromix brand and deliver it -- with local authenticity -- to all the nation’s top markets. The concept is simple: make it fun, make it relevant, make it the place to go.''

'Tribune has bailed out'
But a Gannett Blog reader, Anonymous@8:56 p.m., claimed in a comment last week that Williams is no longer involved with Metromix, raising questions about who's shepherding the venture as Gannett hunts for a Tribune replacement.

"I was speaking with a very good friend of mine there and she told me . . . Gannett has been having trouble finding an investor for Metromix, and that since Tribune has bailed out on this investment, she said that Hearst was approached, but they are not interested."

Their comment continued: "If you ask the Digital team, they do not even support the product anymore, as all functions have been moved to Chicago. Our site deployed it and we feel like we could build a better product than what Metromix has put together. We are already starting to build our own social-entertainment site and we will promptly remove Metromix."

What's going on with your Metromix site? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Amid hiring slowdown, digital stuck in neutral

[Digital's share of overall quarterly revenue; dollars in millions]

In the emerging online world, CareerBuilder and Gannett's other digital businesses should be the company's fastest growers, contributing an ever-increasing share of overall revenue.

But the past six quarters of financial results show the segment has been mostly stuck in neutral, underscoring the company's continued dependence on traditional revenue streams -- especially U.S. newspaper advertising.

Corporate blames digital's performance on the recession, which sharply curtailed hiring among employers. That hurt sales at digital's big kahuna, jobs website CareerBuilder, because companies didn't place many help-wanted ads.

The impact of lost CareerBuilder revenue was especially pronounced in the fourth quarter. Digital segment revenue totaled $158 million, down 7.2% from $170 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The segment's other businesses are PointRoll, ShopLocal, Planet Discover, Schedule Star and Ripple6. Their revenues have been combined into a separate digital segment in the company's financial reports since the third quarter of 2008.

Consider this: Digital's share of overall revenue was just 10.6% of Gannett's total $1.485 billion in fourth-quarter revenue. That share hasn't changed much since the fourth quarter of 2008, when it was 9.8%. (See chart, above.)

In other words, publishing and broadcasting revenue -- especially newspaper advertising -- still represent nearly 90% of all Gannett revenues. If those continue falling, and digital doesn't pick up the slack, the company is going to be hard-pressed to maintain the bottom line: profits.

How are digital advertising sales where you work? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just In | Gannett announces network's formation

For that last Japanese soldier emerging from World War II hiding, the company just moved the following statement across BusinessWire. I can't see any "new" news here -- unless it's a precursor to a spinoff:

Gannett Co. announced today the formation of a groundbreaking network that will change the way advertisers reach their target customers. The Gannett Digital Media Network ties together more than 100 digital communities with a combined reach of approximately 25 million people.

Included in the network are Gannett’s best-of-breed news and information sites, led by USAToday.com, the web site for the nation’s largest-selling daily newspaper. It also includes the local sites for Gannett’s massive network of newspaper and broadcast properties, representing some of the most recognized brands in their communities, such as AZCentral.com and IndyStar.com. The consumers visiting these sites are incredibly attractive to advertisers. On the whole, they skew higher on metrics such as education and household income and, according to a recent Jupiter Research study, local sites rank highest for trust in advertising and attract consumers who spend more money online. This combination of national reach and true local engagement makes the Gannett Digital Media Network unique.

Beyond news and information, the Gannett Digital Media Network can also help marketers build relationships with influential audiences on a variety of growing niche sites, including:
  • MomsLikeMe.com (www.momslikeme.com), an innovative new local social network for moms in 80 markets across the country.
  • HighSchoolSports.net (www.highschoolsports.net), the largest prep sports site in the country, reaching teens, moms and dads.
  • Metromix.com (www.metromix.com), the local entertainment and nightlife guide reaching the young urban market.
  • BNQT.com (www.bnqt.com), which operates the leading action sports network online, attracting millennials and extreme sports enthusiasts everywhere.
But wait, there's more!
"The Gannett Digital Media Network gives marketers access to diverse and attractive audience segments through our unparalleled combination of national and local media sites," said Josh Resnik, vice president and general manager of the Gannett Digital Media Network. "National advertisers will be thrilled with the opportunities presented to them by our Network. We can combine the broad reach of our network with the engagement and affinity found on local sites to help marketers effectively reach their target customers."

In addition, the newly launched Gannett Digital Media Network leverages the most innovative technologies to help advertisers establish meaningful connections. This includes Gannett’s own top tier digital marketing solutions: PointRoll, the world’s leading provider of rich media advertising, having served more than 85 billion rich media ads in 2008 alone; ShopLocal, which offers a comprehensive suite of solutions used by the country’s largest retailers to reach their customers online; and Ripple6, the only enterprise class social media platform that combines social media tools for users and publishers with social marketing tools and embedded word of mouth analytics.

"We are fortunate to be so closely aligned with leaders in the digital marketing space. PointRoll, ShopLocal and Ripple6 offer marketers innovative ways to connect with their customers. Advertisers are seeking new ways to reach consumers online, and we have integrated those solutions in order to make it easy for marketers to engage with users on the Gannett Digital Media Network," said Resnik.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Louisville | Gannett taps 'tweens 2' market

With today's Derby City Bride announcement, in partnership with social network software start-up Springpad, Gannett is gunning for what I'll call tweens 2: female consumers between Metromix readers, perhaps 24 and under, and the over-30 crowd at Moms Like Me. The Louisville online wedding planner works like other social networks: lots of photo galleries and user-generated content. (The Olsen Twins owned the first tweens market when I wrote about that business.)

Gannett and year-old Springpad are promoting Derby City today, but it actually launched April 2, says Anonymous@8:54 p.m. The timing looks smart: The much-anticipated Kentucky Derby will bring zillions of hits to The Courier-Journal's site on May 2 -- a week from Saturday. Assuming Gannett's Ripple6 consumer tracking software is woven into this and other bridal sites, GCI can hand Kay Jewelers and other advertisers lots of data to sell against.

Weddings are crazy expensive. When I wrote about the rise of wedding photojournalism, a typical wedding cost about $19,000 -- and that was in 2001.

From today's press release: Spring Partners today announced a springpad for publishers co-branding program that gives publishers a new communications channel to attract and engage readers with the springpad personal organizer. Co-branded springpads make publisher and advertiser content and offers portable and useful, extending the publishers' brand into their readers' daily activity, event and project planning.

Gannett’s first co-branded springpad, the Derby City Bride Wedding Planner, is a free online notebook to help Louisville brides plan and manage their entire wedding experience.

So, that's what it's About!
Here's the latest version: Gannett Co. Inc. is an international news and information company operating on multiple platforms including the Internet, mobile, newspapers, magazines and TV stations. Gannett is an Internet leader with hundreds of newspaper and TV Web sites; CareerBuilder, the nation's top employment site; USAToday.com; and more than 80 local MomsLikeMe.com sites.

Gannett publishes 85 daily U.S. newspapers, including USA Today, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper, and more than 850 magazines and other non-dailies including USA Weekend. Gannett also operates 23 television stations in 19 U.S. markets. Gannett subsidiary Newsquest is the United Kingdom's second largest regional newspaper company with 17 daily paid-for titles, more than 200 weekly newspapers, magazines and trade publications, and a network of Website.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.

[Cover: This week's USA Weekend features the Make A Difference Day Awards franchise]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Raw results: Gannett reports first-quarter earnings

This just in from BusinessWire:

MCLEAN, Va. -- Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) reported today that 2009 first quarter earnings per diluted share were $0.34 compared with $0.84 per share in the first quarter of 2008.

The results for the first quarter of 2009 include a $39.8 million pre-tax settlement gain related to one of the company’s union pension plans ($24.7 million after-tax or $0.11 per share) and $6.6 million in pre-tax severance and facility-related consolidation costs ($4.3 million after-tax or $0.02 per share). Results for the first quarter of 2008 included a $25.5 million pre-tax gain on the sale of land ($15.8 million after-tax or $0.07 per share). Excluding these one-time items, the company earned $0.25 per diluted share in 2009’s first quarter compared to $0.77 per diluted share in the first quarter a year ago.

“While revenue in the quarter benefited from growth in our digital segment and significantly higher retransmission fees for our television stations, our results reflect the pressure on advertising demand across all of our business segments due to continuing recessions in the U.S. and the UK. Our results, however, highlight the positive impact of the company’s efforts to operate its businesses as cost efficiently as possible in light of the revenue realities we are facing in this extraordinary time,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Dubow.

“Although business conditions remain very challenging, we continue to transform all facets of the company as we position it for a more favorable economic environment and the opportunities we see in the changing media landscape,” Dubow said.

Total reported operating revenues for the company were $1.4 billion in the first quarter compared to $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2008. The revenue decline reflects primarily the impact on advertising demand of the ongoing weakness in the economies of both the U.S. and the UK. Digital segment revenues increased significantly due to the consolidation of CareerBuilder and ShopLocal for the full quarter in 2009.

Reported operating expenses were $1.2 billion, a 10.2 percent decline from $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2008, reflecting cost containment efforts including the impact of headcount reductions in previous periods, furloughs in the current quarter and the pension settlement gain. The effect of these cost savings initiatives was offset partially by restructuring expense. As well, the full consolidation of CareerBuilder and ShopLocal impacted reported expenses. Excluding one time items in both years, pro forma operating expenses were 17.7 percent lower for the quarter. Corporate expenses declined 11.4 percent during the quarter compared to the first quarter in 2008.

Reported operating cash flow (defined as operating income plus depreciation and amortization) was $230.1 million for the quarter and net income was $77.4 million.

Average diluted shares outstanding in the first quarter totaled 230,951,000 compared with 229,661,000 in 2008’s first quarter.

Publishing
Publishing segment operating revenues were $1.1 billion for the quarter, a 26.9 percent decline from the same quarter a year ago. Advertising revenues were $722.8 million or 34.1 percent lower than the first quarter of 2008. Advertising revenues in the U.S. were 28.2 percent lower while at Newsquest, our operations in the UK, ad revenues declined 38.7 percent, in pounds. The retail, national and classified categories for the publishing segment were 23.4 percent, 30.8 percent and 46.5 percent lower, respectively. The exchange rate of the British pound declined over 27 percent year-over-year. Excluding the impact of the exchange rate, total advertising revenues would have been 29.8 percent lower including declines of 20.9 percent in retail, 29.2 percent in national and 40.7 percent in classified. Circulation revenue was 3.1 percent lower in the quarter. Domestic circulation revenue increased 1.0 percent reflecting recent single copy and home delivery price increases in several markets and at USA TODAY.

Lower classified revenues reflect declines of 50.6 percent in real estate, 62.0 percent in employment and 39.2 percent in automotive. On a constant currency basis, real estate, employment, and automotive would have been down 44.3 percent, 57.2 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively. For U.S. Community Publishing, classified revenues were 39.0 percent lower reflecting declines of 36.6 percent in real estate, 60.2 percent in employment and 32.8 percent in automotive. In the UK, classified revenues were down 45.1 percent, in pounds, comprised of declines of 60.0 percent in real estate, 51.4 percent in employment and 43.2 percent in automotive.

At USA TODAY, advertising revenues were 33.5 percent lower in the first quarter compared to the first quarter in 2008. Paid advertising pages totaled 527 compared with 826 in the same quarter of 2008. The telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and advocacy categories grew but the gains were more than offset by losses in the entertainment, travel and financial categories.

Total publishing operating expenses declined 20.9 percent in the quarter to $954.7 million from $1.21 billion in the first quarter of 2008. The decline was driven by continued cost containment efforts including the impact of headcount reductions in previous periods, furloughs in the current quarter and the pension settlement gain. These savings were offset, in part, by higher severance and facility-related consolidation costs. Publishing expenses, excluding severance expenses and facility consolidation costs as well as the pension settlement gain, were 18.1 percent lower. Newsprint expenses were down 15.6 percent for the quarter reflecting an increase in usage prices of 20.4 percent which was more than offset by a 29.9 percent decline in consumption. Operating cash flow in the first quarter for the publishing segment, which includes USA TODAY and Newsquest, was $179.3 million.

Broadcasting
Broadcasting revenues (which include Captivate) totaled $143.5 million in the quarter compared to $170.2 million in the first quarter of 2008. The decline was due to softer advertising demand, particularly in the automotive and retail categories, and the near absence of politically related advertising which totaled approximately $5 million in the first quarter of 2008, partially offset by a significant increase in retransmission revenues, Super Bowl related advertising that benefited our NBC affiliates, and higher online revenue.

Operating expenses for the broadcasting segment were $99.3 million or 11.6 percent lower than the first quarter last year reflecting ongoing efficiency efforts. Operating cash flow was $52.7 million in the first quarter. Television revenues were 14.9 percent lower and totaled $139.6 million. Based on current trends, we would expect television revenues to be down in the high teens for the second quarter of 2009 compared to the second quarter of 2008.

Digital
The digital segment for the quarter includes results for CareerBuilder, PointRoll, ShopLocal, Planet Discover, Schedule Star and Ripple6. Results for CareerBuilder and ShopLocal were initially consolidated in the third quarter of 2008 when the company acquired controlling interest. Ripple6 was acquired in November 2008. Results for PointRoll, Planet Discover and Schedule Star, which had been previously included in the publishing segment, have been reclassified to the digital segment for the prior period.

Digital operating revenues totaled $143.2 million in the quarter compared with $13.9 million in 2008, reflecting primarily the consolidation of CareerBuilder and ShopLocal. Operating expenses were $144.4 million. Operating cash flow was $7.9 million reflecting positive results for CareerBuilder, PointRoll and ShopLocal, partially offset by investment in other digital properties. On a pro forma basis, operating revenues were 13.1 percent lower but operating expenses were down 21.5 percent resulting in a $20.0 million increase in operating cash flow.

Non-operating items
The company’s equity earnings include its share of operating results from unconsolidated investees including the California Newspapers Partnership, Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership, Tucson newspaper partnership and other online/new technology businesses. These amounts included the company’s equity share of results for CareerBuilder and ShopLocal for the first quarter of 2008 which was before the company acquired controlling interests in these businesses.

The equity loss in unconsolidated investees for the first quarter of 2009 was $2.7 million compared to $11.8 million for the first quarter of 2008. This improvement reflects primarily the absence of the company’s equity share of losses related to CareerBuilder and ShopLocal which are now consolidated, partially offset by lower results from our newspaper publishing partnerships.

The $21.7 million decline in other non-operating items to $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2009 was due primarily to the $25.5 million pre-tax gain on the sale of land reported in the first quarter of 2008.

Interest expense for the first quarter was $48.9 million, a slight increase from $48.5 million in the first quarter last year reflecting lower average debt balances offset by slightly higher interest rates.

In the first quarter of 2009, Gannett adopted Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 160 (FAS 160), “Noncontrolling Interests in Consolidated Financial Statements – an amendment of ARB No. 51.” FAS 160 affects primarily the company’s reporting of the 49.2 percent noncontrolling interest in CareerBuilder. Previously the company presented this minority interest in “Other non-operating items” in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Income. Under FAS 160, “Net income” in the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Income reflects 100 percent of CareerBuilder results as the company holds the controlling interest. “Net income” is subsequently adjusted to remove the noncontrolling (minority) interest to arrive at “Net income attributable to Gannett Co., Inc.” While this presentation is different than previously required by GAAP, the final net income results attributable to the company are the same under FAS 160 and the previous reporting method.

At the end of the quarter, Gannett had more than 100 domestic publishing Web sites, including USATODAY.com, one of the most popular newspaper sites on the Web. The company also had Web sites in all of its 19 television markets. In March, Gannett’s consolidated domestic Internet audience share was 24.8 million unique visitors reaching 14.7 percent of the Internet audience according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Newsquest is also an Internet leader in the UK where its network of Web sites attracted 83.5 million monthly page impressions from approximately 6.9 million unique users. CareerBuilder’s unique visitors in March totaled 22.7 million, unchanged compared to last year.

All references in this release to “comparable” revenue results and “operating cash flow” are to non-GAAP financial measures. Management believes that this use allows management and investors to analyze and compare the company’s results in a more meaningful and consistent manner. A reconciliation of the non-GAAP operating cash flow amounts to the company’s consolidated statements of income is attached.

As previously announced, the company will hold an earnings conference call at 10:00 a.m. ET today. The call can be accessed via a live Webcast through the Investor Relations section of the company’s Web site, www.gannett.com, or listen-only conference lines. U.S. callers should dial 1-800-822-4794 and international callers should dial 913-312-0690 at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the call. The confirmation code for the conference call is 9412955. To access the replay, dial 1-888-203-1112 in the U.S. International callers should use the number 719-457-0820. The confirmation code for the replay is 9412955. Materials related to the call will be available through the Investor Relations section of the company’s Web site Thursday morning.

Gannett Co., Inc. is an international news and information company operating on multiple platforms including the Internet, mobile, newspapers, magazines and TV stations. Gannett is an Internet leader with hundreds of newspaper and TV Web sites; CareerBuilder.com, the nation’s top employment site; USATODAY.com; and more than 80 local MomsLikeMe.com sites. Gannett publishes 85 daily U.S. newspapers, including USA TODAY, the nation’s largest-selling daily newspaper, and more than 850 magazines and other non-dailies including USA WEEKEND. Gannett also operates 23 television stations in 19 U.S. markets. Gannett subsidiary Newsquest is the United Kingdom’s second largest regional newspaper company with 17 daily paid-for titles, more than 200 weekly newspapers, magazines and trade publications, and a network of Web sites.

Certain statements in this press release may be forward looking in nature or “forward looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward looking statements contained in this press release are subject to a number of risks, trends and uncertainties that could cause actual performance to differ materially from these forward looking statements. A number of those risks, trends and uncertainties are discussed in the company’s SEC reports, including the company’s annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Any forward looking statements in this press release should be evaluated in light of these important risk factors.

Gannett is not responsible for updating the information contained in this press release beyond the published date, or for changes made to this press release by wire services, Internet service providers or other media.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gannett paid Saridakis $7.8M for his Ripple6 stake

The payment to Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis (left) for his 10% stake in the Ripple6 software company appears buried under "Related Party Transactions,'' starting on page 56 of the newly filed proxy report to stockholders.

Gannett did not disclose any dollar figures when it announced the Ripple6 purchase in November. The payment to Saridakis is on top of the $1.1 million he got in wages and other compensation for 2008. My question: Does this mean Gannett paid $78 million total for the entire company -- given what it paid for Saridakis' 10% share? Word for word, here's text:


"In November 2008, we acquired Ripple6. Following the acquisition, Ripple6 reports to Mr. Saridakis. In connection with the acquisition, all of the owners of Ripple6 other than Mr. Saridakis received a payment at closing as well as the right to receive future payments based upon the post-closing financial performance of Ripple6. In order to remove any potential conflict of interest, we entered into a different arrangement with Mr. Saridakis pursuant to which we purchased his 10% interest for $7.8 million with no right to receive future payments. Mr. Saridakis did not participate on behalf of the Company in the acquisition negotiations. The Board of Directors approved the acquisition after careful consideration of the benefits to be derived by the Company from the transaction."

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dueling doulas: In niche site battle, more rivals

[Moms Like Me vs. niche audience competitor Twitter Moms]

I am a 52-year-old gay man with no children, yet I now know the difference between a midwife and a doula, and Baby Loves Disco vs. Baby Loves Hip Hop. Unfortunately, little in my new-found wisdom represents good news for Gannett as it chases advertising in an increasingly crowded field of splintered "cloud" communities. (You're visiting one now: Gannett Blog.)

My education came after surfing for websites similar to Gannett's much-touted Moms Like Me, a social community for mothers initially launched by The Indianapolis Star in fall 2006, and now on most of the company's sites. The moms franchise is part of a larger digital portfolio of niche sites GCI has launched or bought, in hopes of generating more ad revenue at a minimal cost.

"Moms represent a critical user group with huge buying power and a longing for outside contacts and advice,'' Star Editor Dennis Ryerson wrote in News Watch. "They lead incredibly busy lives and want information that is easy to access, full of utility and as warm and refreshing as their own children."

Gannett's portfolio also features infamous-for-skin Metromix, a joint venture with financially decimated Tribune Co. GCI invested a reported $8 million in Cozi last June; for advertisers, the family calendar start-up could pair well with moms consumers. The newest home-grown microsites are the "green pages," including those in Wilmington, Del., and in Louisville, Ky.

(Woven into much of this, we worry, is ethically dicey Ripple6 software. Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis and partners sold the consumer data mining firm to Gannett less than four months ago. At possibly under $15 million, the deal itself stretched the bounds of arms-length ethics. GCI gave Ripple6 a $2.2 million contract a year ago to provide "computer programming services related to strategic plan initiatives,'' the March 2008 shareholder proxy report says.)

Tattooed moms vs. your CPMs
Competition is keen for scarce ad dollars, as publishers create even more niche sites -- splintering the market further, and driving down CPM advertising rates again, and again.

Twitter Moms, for example, offers its own reader group on a hot topic: natural childbirth options beyond traditional midwives: doulas. In Indianapolis, Moms Like Me offers a nearly identical group. Gannett's strength may rest on the Moms local-local tagline, customized for each site: "Where Indy moms meet."

But just try keeping up. Childbirth no longer an issue? How about joining Frum Twitter Moms, for tech-savvy Jewish Orthodox mothers who "discuss life at the intersection of Torah and Internet."

Got a more edgy spiritual side? There's Counter Culture Moms. "Are you Goth? Punk? Metal? Tattooed?" the blog asks. "Not like all the other moms? Then you have come to the right place!"

How about something more, oh, suburban: Polling Moms, for mothers addicted to polls and surveys. "Post your polls here, so we can all get our fix,'' says the site's creator.

'Green' dancing babies
The number of parent-focused sites Gannett faces in this increasingly crowded industry appears endless. As quickly as I discovered the Philadelphia-area mom-and-pop founders of Baby Loves Disco, I learned they also sell a line of recorded music.

Plus, they've got a blog featuring tips on -- what else -- how you and your kids could celebrate a "green" Valentine's Day: "Talk to your child's teacher about swapping eco-cards made from recycled and tree free materials you find around your home."


Ripple6 on its 'brand' cloud communities
"In social environments," Gannett's consumer data software maker says, "people don't want to feel they're being used, overtly pitched or sold at. Marketers have needs and wants, too."



Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Report: GCI likely paid less than $15M for Ripple6

PaidContent just posted that estimate, based on details about the controversial November deal that emerge in Gannett's newly filed Form 10-K. GCI has not disclosed the price it paid for Ripple6, a social network software maker in which Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis held a 10% stake.

With layoffs, GCI employment dives record 10%

[Workforce size as of Dec. 31, each of past 15 years]

Reflecting a wave of job reductions, Gannett's employment plunged 10% last year, to 41,500, from 2007 -- the biggest annual drop in the past 15 years, according to the company's just-filed annual Form 10-K.

In fact, total employment would have fallen much more, but for Gannett's purchase last September of majority control of jobs site CareerBuilder. For the first time, GCI counted all 2,000 CareerBuilder workers in its global 41,500 headcount. Take them out, and Gannett's total workforce actually fell more than 14% from 2007, on an apples-to-apples basis.

Also new in today's 10-K: an employment breakout for the digital portfolio companies, which include CareerBuilder: about 2,500 at the end of last year; GCI did not provide a comparable figure a year ago.

These companies include the jobs site and ShopLocal "from the dates of their full consolidation," plus PointRoll, Planet Discover, Schedule Star and Ripple6. So, back out CareerBuilder, and the digital portfolio companies employ about 500 total.

Newsquest paces losses
Companywide, employment peaked at 53,400 in 2000, following the $2.6 billion all-cash acquisition of Central Newspapers, which included The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star.

The U.S. Community Publishing newspaper division now accounts for 70% of all employees, down marginally from 71% in 2007, the 10-K shows. Among operating units, U.K. newspaper division Newsquest reported the biggest employment reduction, nearly 19%.

U.S. newspapers
2007: 32,800 employees
2008: 29,200
Change: down 11%

Newsquest
2007: 8,100
2008: 6,600
Change: down 18.5%

Broadcasting
2007: 3,000
2008: 2,700
Change: down 10%

Earlier: Our paper-by-paper list of December job cuts

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Recap: We're investing incestuously!

Posts you might have missed last week, while PBS MediaShift revealed what Barack Obama and I have in common.
  • Deep cuts: The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., warned that up to 80 employees could be laid off -- a whopping 13% of all.
  • Half-baked: In a video, I explain why Gannett Blog TV's new cooking show failed the smell test.
  • DIG this! Searching the globe for the best software company to buy, Gannett went in-house -- w-a-a-a-a-a-y in-house.
Journalism vs. speculation
The Ripple6 software deal ignited a fascinating debate among readers about separating fact from fiction in anything that appears on this blog. One reader's comment was blunt: "This blog is no substitute for real journalism. It's an echo chamber of tips, gripes, stock manipulator plants and clueless speculation by journalists too holy to learn Business 101."

My response? Please see today's episode of Gannett Blog TV.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What a Wall Street analyst learned on this blog

Hint: It's about yesterday's Ripple6 deal, Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis -- and those curious multimillion-dollar payments.



Glossary: Who the heck is Sparky, and what's crowdsourcing?

Earlier: More episodes on my YouTube channel

Please support this blog with a voluntary $5 subscription; see the "Donate" tool in the green sidebar, upper right. Or, send cash/checks payable to: Jim Hopkins, 584 Castro St. #823, San Francisco, Calif., 94114-2594.

Ripple6, Saridakis -- and those curious payments

Companies trying to bury awkward news they don't want widely circulated often stick it at the bottom of a press release or deep inside a regulatory filing. So, for example, we found the following paragraph at the very end of Gannett's announcement yesterday that it had bought social-network software maker Ripple6:

"As part of the transaction, the 10 percent share of Ripple6 owned by Chris Saridakis, senior vice president and chief digital officer of Gannett, was bought out completely by Gannett. He did not participate in the sale negotiations."

Smart Gannett Blog readers noticed that curious passage, and wondered, understandably, why GCI is doing big business with one of its own officers. Worse still, the announcement says: "Terms were not disclosed." That's a fancy-schmancy way of saying Gannett would not reveal the price paid for Ripple6 -- or the method of payment. (Gannett stock? Unlikely. Cash? Probably.)

One unhappy reader summed it up last night in a comment: "A horrible economy. A stock that dives from $90 to $8.50. In the middle of it all, an acquisition that benefits -- more than GCI stakeholders -- one of its new division heads."

Saridakis beats odds -- twice!
Gannett will use Ripple6 to create and power online communities, including its most successful ones to date: the recently rebranded MomsLikeMe.com sites.

Now, there are thousands of software companies in the world to buy. What are the odds GCI would choose one co-owned by one of its highest-ranking officers? Better yet, what are the odds Gannett would make that kind of deal twice? Quite good, it turns out.

Just eight months ago, GCI paid $4.6 million to Saridakis (left), for the remaining shares he owned in PointRoll -- the advertising services company Gannett bought in 2005. Saridakis, 40, was its CEO at the time, and so a significant stockholder.

That $4.6 million payment raised eyebrows, when it was disclosed last spring in a shareholders proxy report filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Moreover, the payment was disclosed way back on page 50, where many investors might not have seen it. By then, of course, Saridakis had pole-vaulted onto the powerful Gannett Management Committee, chaired by CEO Craig Dubow. Saridakis was the young technologist, suddenly in line to succeed Dubow.

Document reveals $2.2 million contract
The same proxy report also says: "In March 2008, we entered into contracts with Ripple6, Inc., an entity in which Mr. Saridakis holds a 10% interest, pursuant to which Ripple6 will provide approximately $2.2 million of computer programming services related to strategic plan initiatives. As our senior management was aware of his indirect interest, Mr. Saridakis did not participate in the negotiation of these contracts. Due to the immaterial amounts involved, the contracts were approved by senior management."

That $2.2 million is the gross amount, of course; I'd like to know how much of it was profit split among Saridakis and his partners -- and how big a cut Saridakis got.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maybe we should call him Chief Money Officer

Leapfrogging onto the powerful Gannett Management Committee two months ago has been more than just good for Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis' ego. It's been good for his wallet, too! Rafat Ali at paidContent took a peek at the new proxy report to shareholders, and unearthed a seven-digit payment Gannett just made to Saridakis (left) -- one I missed in my own review last week. The company also disclosed that it's now doing business with a company co-owned by 39-year-old Saridakis. Here's what GCI says in the proxy:

"In March 2008, we purchased for $4.6 million the remaining shares in Point Roll, Inc., a Gannett subsidiary, held by Chris Saridakis, who became our Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer in January 2008. The purchase price for the shares held by Mr. Saridakis was determined pursuant to the terms of an earn-out established at the time of Gannett’s acquisition of Point Roll in 2005."

The company continues: "Also in March 2008, we entered into contracts with Ripple6, Inc., an entity in which Mr. Saridakis holds a 10% interest, pursuant to which Ripple6 will provide approximately $2.2 million of computer programming services related to strategic plan initiatives. As our senior management was aware of his indirect interest, Mr. Saridakis did not participate in the negotiation of these contracts. Due to the immaterial amounts involved, the contracts were approved by senior management."

Way to keep it all in the family, Corporate!