paidContent Quick Hits: 8.20.09

»  ESPN The Magazine’s general manager Gary Hoenig on why it is offering a year of The Mag and access to its online Insider portal for only a dollar. [CNBC]

»  Amid the recession, angel investors are reevaluating the roles the play with start-ups. [NY Times]

»  A look at the rash of media companies losing their CEOs—is it the economy, or just a normal changing of the guard? [Folio]

»  The New York Times was bumped out of the top-five global news sites in the latest Nielsen numbers, while ABCNEWS Digital Network took its place, with traffic growing 21%. [E&P]

»  CareerBuilder launches job social networking site, its attempt to take on LinkedIn, [Business Insider]

»  Barnes & Noble is shutting down its how-to site, Quamut, but will continue to sell the information gathered on the site in its stores. [CNET]

Did Bankrate Rush Through The Apax Deal? SEC Picking Over Details

The Deal Professor on raises some great questions on the Bankrate’s sale deal to Apax Partners, after combing through the tender offer SEC filings. Among the main points raised: the management seems to want to push through the deal with Apax, and may not have gone through a full bidding process. The other firm interested was Warburg Pincus. Also, the company board and management may not have given enough time to the disinterested directors to discuss the deal. He also redlines through the various SEC documents to highlight the discrepancies with some of the previous filings from the company (embedded after the jump).

But here’s the key point: “The Apax proposal of $30 per Bankrate (NSDQ: RATE) share arrived on June 16 — and was an all-cash, equity-financed offer from the get-go. So Apax clearly realized from the beginning the value of an offer with no debt financing. In fact, Bankrate came back and asked for $33 a share, a number that Apax said would require it to go to the leveraged loan market. According to the history, Bankrate management (Mr. Evans, Mr. DiMaria and Edward Morse, the chairman of Bankrate’s board) then backed down. This doesn’t make sense though: an extra $3 a share could easily be financed now. There must be more to this disclosure, or I am missing something.”

This comes as the deal is supposed to go through in the next few days. Will there be more wrinkles in this?

Bankrate Tender Offer - Blackline


Usain Bolt Breaks Another World Record, and Footage Speeds Online

Usain Bolt ran 200 meters in 19.19 seconds today, breaking his own world record set last year in the Olympics. Earlier this week he broke his own world record in the 100 meters. But I would venture to say that the sprinter is also holding his own in another arena — YouTube — where people from around the world can witness Bolt’s dominance as soon as they get wind of it.

Within a couple hours of Bolt crossing the finish line, more than 100 new uploads showed up in YouTube search. Generally taped off TV sets, the screen captures vary drastically in picture quality and commentator language. But by following a Twitter, Facebook, watercooler or TV mention, millions of us will know today to jump over to our video sites of choice and watch Bolt crush. For an under-appreciated sport like track and field, that’s pretty cool.

Unfortunately the official Berlin World Championships site has only a side-show video section, with daily highlight reels and interviews with the athletes. But thankfully, the International Association of Athletics Federations — or whoever they’ve sold the international TV rights to — don’t seem to be too interested in rapid-fire copyright takedown notices. So the videos on YouTube may just stay up.

As of now, YouTube doesn’t have any HD videos of the 200 meters, but perhaps they just haven’t had time to process them. Here’s an excellent (and also unofficial) version of Bolt’s 100-meter win:

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MySpace Memo: Media Link Will Refocus Ad Strategy On ‘Day-To-Day Basis’

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta’s memo outlining the relationship with ad and marketing consultancy Media Link is out and MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka has it here. As Van Natta says, the company needs to find the right balance between content and commerce. Media Link, which is headed by ad vet Michael Kassan and digital media maven Wenda Harris Millard, has been tapped to help the Fox Interactive social net “reconfigure” its ad offerings. Secondly, Van Natta writes that Media Link will also be expected to provide a wider perspective on new developments in the ad industry in general. And contrary to early reports, Millard told paidContent that she will not be an employee of MySpace, though she will work closely on the account. According to the memo, she’ll be pretty hands on, as Van Natta says, “on an interim basis the firm will help manage our day-to-day sales organization under the leadership of Wenda Harris Millard.”

Lastly, Van Natta confirms that Jeff Berman is leaving as head of ad sales after three years at MySpace to “explore other opportunities.” MySpace also posted an item about the latest developments here.

Hi everyone,

I want to share some thoughts about our advertising product strategy and give you an update on the structure of our sales organization.

In the last three months we’ve focused our attention on restructuring the business, refocusing the MySpace user experience, and hiring some talented people particularly in the technology and product organization. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in these areas and now want to focus on ensuring we have the best advertising product, sales strategy, and team in the market.

MySpace has always been a leader in the social media advertising space. Maintaining our leadership position requires that we foster the perfect balance between content and commerce.  With this in mind, I’m pleased to announce that we are bringing a new partner into our global organization.  Please join me in welcoming to the MySpace team, Media Link - a top media representation and strategic advisory firm founded by Michael Kassan and whose clients have included Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), AT&T (NYSE: T), Unilever, Home Depot, and Colgate-Palmolive. Michael is an internationally recognized leader operating at the intersection of the media, advertising, and entertainment industries. He’s the founder and managing principal of Media Link and acts as an advisor to many of the Fortune 100’s best-of-breed global brands

Media Link will be focusing on two primary objectives.  First, the firm will provide guidance as we reconfigure our ad products to meet the current needs of the marketplace.  As a key strategic advisor and partner, they’ll provide us with an external perspective on the larger advertising market as well as insight into what top clients (and those we’re looking to attract) are asking for.

Second, as part of this process on an interim basis the firm will help manage our day-to-day sales organization under the leadership of Wenda Harris Millard.  Many of you know and have worked with Wenda in the past and for those who haven’t she’s truly an internet advertising pioneer.  Her reputation on Madison Avenue is unmatched and after holding executive sales posts at Ziff Davis, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO) she recently joined Media Link as President.

After more than three years of managing a highly diverse set of responsibilities at MySpace including content and sales roles, Jeff Berman has decided to explore other opportunities. During his tenure at MySpace, Jeff brought leadership to our sales organization and built an incredible team with expertise across every advertising vertical.  I appreciate all the support that Jeff has given the new management team and look forward to welcoming new sales talent to compliment the tremendous group we currently have in place.  We wish Jeff the best in his future plans.

Within our sales team, we have a deep bench of talent responsible for managing one of the most dynamic advertising platforms on the Web.  I’d to like recognize the sales team for their hard work and dedication in creating meaningful ad solutions for our roster of advertisers.

Our senior sales team (in alpha order) includes:
·      Chris Carlson - Regional Vice President of the Mid West
·      Angela Courtin - SVP Marketing, Entertainment, Content
·      Shari Friedman - Vice President of Entertainment Sales
·      Mitchell Kreuch - Regional Vice President of East Coast Sales
·      Abe Thomas - VP of Online Marketing
·      Valeh Vakili - SVP Sales Strategy and Operations
·      Sam Wick - SVP of Strategy for MySpace Music
·      Andy Wiedlin - Regional Vice President of West Coast Sales

I appreciate your dedication and focus on delivering for our advertising partners during the last few months. I hope you’re as excited as I am to take our sales organizations to the next level.


Wenda Says: Not Taking A Post At MySpace; Media Link Hired To Retool Ad Sales; Berman Out

Update (David adds): In a brief conversation with paidContent, Wenda Harris Millard denies that she has been hired by MySpace.  Millard, speaking from a ship somewhere in the Adriatic, told us: “I am not going to MySpace. They did not hire me, they hired Media Link. I’m president of Media Link. It’s a decision I made, it’s where I’m staying. The story is not true.” I asked if she would be personally working on the MySpace account and she said, “I personally work on every engagement we have in the digital space.” 

Original Post: MySpace’s desperate, really desperate to retool, and that’s a good thing: as the management changes continue at the social networking giant, it is hiring retaining Wenda Harris Millard’s media consultancy to help on ad sales for the company, we have confirmed. Kara reported it first on ATD. The move hasn’t been announced internally yet as the news leaked out, but now they know. Millard left MSLO earlier this year and is president of media consultancy Media Link. Prior to that she was the top ad sales exec at Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). She will continue in her position with the firm, while working with MySpace to give them the much-needed boost on the ad sales side. She and the agency will work with MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta. All company ad sales managers will report to her. And as Kara point out, this makes its current head of ad sales Jeff Berman’s position in the company even more tenuous. Updated: Berman is out. He has been rumored to be leaving ever since new management under Jon Miller/Van Natta came in. Here’s Van Natta’s blog post

This comes a day after the company acquired iLike.

Millard recently moderated a panel at our EconAffinity conference, on celeb endorsements. The video, embedded after the break:


Group M Consolidating Print-Buying Operations

NEW YORK ( -- Three major media agencies -- Mediaedge:cia, MediaCom and Mindshare -- are merging their print-buying departments. The three agencies belong to the WPP's Group M division, the world's largest group of media agencies.