How the media reported the sale, the day Crikey became the news. And also check out the reaction from subscribers.

Bedlam in the bunker

Subscriber email – 2 February

Well,
it has certainly been bedlam today since we emailed our 5300
subscribers at 9.30 this morning announcing the sale of Crikey.

Even
sworn enemy Neil Mitchell lifted his 5 year ban and had Crikey on for a
5 minute chat just after 10am on 3AW this morning. Naturally he
described Crikey as “scurrilous” and said “95% of what you’ve said
about me was wrong” but it was actually a pretty friendly and
light-hearted exchange compared to past rumbles.

Proud new
Crikey owner Eric Beecher also chatted about his purchase with ABC
Melbourne’s Jon Faine this morning as part of Faine’s regular Wednesday
media segment.

The Oz have a photographer in the bunker at the moment, The Age have been here with snapper and journalist, AAP sent a snapper and there been phone chats with Peter Ryan from PM, AAP, the SMH and Mark Day.

Interestingly, we haven’t heard from anyone at The Fin Review or the Herald Sun, the tabloids run by Michael Gill and Peter Blunden respectively, two people with long term grudges and bans on Crikey.

Indeed,
New Ltd has so far been entirely mute on news of the sale, but Fairfax
has included cobbled together stories in their online editions of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, (plus a brief mention in The Fin).

The Age was, of course, quick to point out that their business gossip columnist Christopher Webb
broke the story of the impending Crikey sale in December despite our
firm denials at the time because the deal had not been consumated.

The
reaction direct into the bunker has been overwhelmingly positive, but
naturally, there are a few rumbles around the place as any sale creates
uncertainty, but so far it has been a good experience.

Check out the slightly updated sale announcement on the site here: Onwards and upwards – Crikey sold for $1m

Meanwhile, the net has also been abuzz with the news, with blogger Alan Jones writing:

I
think this is big news because, as far as I know, it’s the first time
anybody has paid real money (rather than shares) to acquire an
independent online publication in Australia. If I were Andrew and
Louise at Urban Cinefile or Paul at Undercover, this could be
heartening news. Maybe all those hard years of hard work for stuff-all
reward might pay off after all. If you value Crikey on its subscribers,
the main revenue source, then PMP has paid about $190 per paid sub.

More reaction to the Crikey sale

Subscriber email – 3 February

If
you want an example of the media being obsessed with the media (and we
certainly are most of the time) then look no further than the huge
amount of coverage of the Crikey sale.

The editor ended up
speaking to Sally Loane’s ABC Morning program in Sydney yesterday and
then four ABC Drive programs – Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth.
Throw in 3AW’s Neil Mitchell yesterday morning, the Canberra station
2CC this morning and a pre-record with ABC radio’s PM
program and that amounted to the most radio exposure Crikey has ever
had, eclipsing the 5 interviews after almost cracking the News Corp
board in 2002.

Not surprisingly, the television coverage
was more limited as there wasn’t much in the way of pictures to go with
the yarn. That said, it still made the SBS 9.30pm evening news and
David Koch on Sky Business Report also gave it a nice run.

Then
you have the online and newspaper coverage. By Wednesday afternoon,
News Ltd had caught up with Fairfax, posting an AAP story on the
News.com.au website – Shareholder activist sells website for $1 million

In The Australian Mark Day, a long time Crikey watcher, cast his mind back to October last year when Crikey was approached by The Australian‘s Media section to talk about his internet publishing venture in, Crikey sells out in deal worth $1m, and a second story, Crikey! The frolic of Mayne nets $1m.

The Age dedicated much of page 3 of today’s paper to the sale with two stories on the sale, Mayne finds a million reasons to sell, and, Beecher: Changes in the wind, but spirit to remain, alongside a large photo of the website’s founder and a break out box tracing Crikey’s highs and lows.

Michael Gill’s Fin Review
managed to maintain their childish ban on Crikey and did not mention a
word, despite the obvious corporate angle that Australia’s most
prominent and unsuccessful board candidate is re-entering the AGM fray.

In contrast to The Age’s prominent coverage, the Herald Sun
buried news of the sale in a short story at the back of the business
section but at least lifted their ban. They carried a single quote from
Crikey on the front of the business section in the Market Talk box
saying:

“I assume they’ll (Private Media Partners) probably try and be a bit more accurate than me.”
– Stephen Mayne, Crikey Founder

Predictable
sledge really and something that Neil Mitchell was also pushing.
Speaking of accuracy, there were a few little mistakes sprinkled
through the coverage. Christian Catalano’s piece in The Age said a Crikey subscription costs $50 when it is $100 for newcomers and $80 for renewals.

Suzanne Carbone in The Age
said “Mayne was looking for a job in the media”. This might have come
from Mrs Crikey’s comment that “it’s probably time for him to do other
things” but truth be known, I’m contracted to write for Crikey and The Reader and am explicitly not permitted to work for another publication before completion in September 2006.

Mark
Day talked about Crikey using “consumer activism” when it was always
“shareholder activism” and he also said the following about future
corporate campaigns: “Mayne will be able to use Crikey’s powerful list
of 5300 subscribers as his campaign platform.”

I probably
didn’t explain this properly but any shareholder activism activity will
involve personal campaigns not run under the banner of Crikey.
Commentary and analysis about the problems with some companies I’m
campaigning against will probably appear in Crikey from time to time
but that is a matter for Eric and Di’s team. You certainly won’t see
campaign flyers, calls for volunteers and corporate how to vote cards
being distributed to our 16,000-strong email data base.

Meanwhile, NineMSN combined the Crikey sale with news of The Chaser newspaper’s collapse in their story, which drew a parallel between The Chaser’s decision to concentrate on their website and the successful sale of Crikey.

Opinion divided on the value of Crikey

Subscriber email – 4 February

By a Crikey staff member

Reaction
to Crikey’s sale has been mixed, with some commentators seeing the sale
as a win for Beecher and Gribble and others as a win for publisher
Stephen Mayne.

Independent communications analyst Paul Budde told the ABC online on Wednesday that despite its financial troubles, Crikey is worth more than $1 million. Budde says of the sale price:

I
think it is worth much more … on the larger scale, what sort of ideas
he has set in people’s minds, the sort of followers in all sorts of
industries that has resulted from the Crikey.com (sic) development is
literally worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In contrast, online publisher Daniel Donahoo says the Crikey deal is an ambitious one in today’s AgeCrikey! An internet million.
Donahoo says the complex sale arrangement with Beecher and Gribble is a
win for Mayne who is “calling heads on a coin without any tails”.
Donahoo writes:

Beecher and
Gribble obviously think Mayne has succeeded. And he has. But, the World
Wide Web is frivolous and non-committal. You can log off and shut down
at any time, and there is enough content for several lifetimes.

So, it doesn’t matter if Mayne has succeeded. The question is, will Beecher and Gribble?

Other coverage of the Crikey sale we’ve missed so far includes:

ZNet – Crikey Web publishing pioneers to sell
SMH Business – Crikey – all grown up and fetching a handsome price

And
even the crazy web raving of an internet junky can get into the
mainstream press. Look no further than Jack Robertson’s ode to Stephen
Mayne in Margo’s Kingston’s SMH webdiary, in the aptly named column – Shorely shome mishtake, Shteve? – Even Mediaweek’s morning report on Wednesday had an item on the sale with the dramatic headline – Stop Press: Beecher buys Crikey.com.au for $1m.

The Age gets the Crikey model right

Subscriber email – 7 February

The Age
had another op-ed piece in the paper today on the Crikey sale and Hugh
Martin largely got the economics of our business right in his piece: The names, not the website, are Crikey gold

There
is no doubt that our 16,000-plus email list – 5300 paying subscribers,
200 life and gold members, 140 freebie/contra subs and 10,500 free
alerts – is what constitutes the majority of the $1 million value.

The
Crikey website merely serves as a marketing tool through which paying
subscribers find us. In terms of revenue, the website only generates
about $1200 a month in revenue from Google and a similar amount is
raised from banner and tower ads sold directly by Mrs Crikey.

Whilst
advertising revenue is only running at about $8000 a month, the
majority of this comes from the email ad and there is certainly scope
for the genuine media professionals taking over the operation to
increase the overall advertising revenue without flooding the email or
website with ads.

The majority of our revenue, about
$25,000 a month, comes from subscriptions to the daily email
newsletter. There is absolutely no element of password protected
website access to the archive – a flawed model if ever there was one.
The key to the model is pushing out original content and interesting
links directly to the inboxes of influential Australians who then push
interesting information back to us, thereby providing much of our
content.

Beecher responds to Donahoo

Subscriber email – 8 February

New Crikey owners Eric Beecher and Di Gribble have responded to Daniel Donahoo’s op-ed piece from last Friday’s Age – check out their letter towards the bottom of this page in The Age.