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Friday, October 19, 2001

Brill's Content Closes and Primedia Acquires Inside

The popular, but unprofitable entertainment industry website Inside.com is being closed and sold to Primedia. Under Primedia ownership the website will become a portal for fee-based industry content from Primedia's Media Central. Brill's Content, a print magazine and website which covered the media, is also ceasing publication. The sale of Inside brings an end to the short-lived Brill Media Holdings and Primedia joint venture. 38 employees will be let go in the process.

The Brill and Primedia joint venture was created in April, 2001, after Powerful Media, the company which founded Inside.com, started looking for a buyer because it was burning cash too quickly and the advertising economy was starting to weaken. Powerful Media chose to sell out early rather than face the rounds of layoffs, expense reductions and VC capital begging that other dot-coms have endured. Media mogul Stephen Brill's company, Brill Media Ventures, acquired Inside.com in a joint venture with Primedia, which put Brill in charge of Media Central, a portal for Primedia's publishing and media trade publications. Over 50% of Inside.com's employees were let go shortly after the merger.

After the merger, Inside Magazine, a print version of Inside.com which had launched in a partnership with the Industry Standard, ceased publication. The print magazine only lasted one issue. The publication was supposed to re-launch as Inside Content, a combination of Inside Magazine and Brill's Content, but the project was put on hold. The Inside.com website was then switched to a fee-based model, but the company struggled to attract subscribers. The website's popularity also begin to erode once the content was no longer freely available.

In addition to closing Brill's Content, Stephen Brill also recently shut Contentville.com, a website which offered a variety of content ranging from thesis papers to ebooks. An article on Inside.com, by Inside.com journalist Seth Moonkin, tells part of the story about how the merger unraveled, including a soured relationship between Stephen Brill and Primedia CEO Tom Rogers. Primedia has also been struggling this year and its stock has dropped below the $2 per share mark. Brill will stay on for another three-months before leaving his job as CEO of Media Central.


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