Just how close is Mia Freedman and her husband Jason Lavigne to selling their website Mamamia? Last week, Crikey reported that Mamamia could conceivably be snapped up by a bigger publisher for $2-5 million. Yesterday morning, The Australian‘s rejuvenated Media Diary picked up on the yarn, running a denial from Lavigne that while there were no current offers, if one came along and it made sense “we would be crazy not to take it”.
But Freedman and Lavigne are closer to News than they are letting on. The News-owned SheSpot books ads for Mamamia following News’ $45 million purchase of parent company KidSpot in June. And, as Crikey revealed last week, KidSpot offered Freedman an editorial role and equity stake in its subsidiary justb in April, just weeks before News bought the site.
Weirdly, Freedman issued a point blank denial that she had been approached by justb an email to Crikey last week, describing the notion as “bizarre”.
“My husband and I own and operate Mamamia.com.au, the most successful independent women’s website in Australia with the most engaged and influential audience. With the above in mind, it would be bizarre for anyone to make an offer for me to either contribute or edit a site like justb, and nobody has. Unfortunately I can’t shed any light on News’ or anyone else’s plans for websites aimed at women.”
Freedman seemed to not be aware of justb at all: “My understanding is that justb is a Facebook page with a nominal website attached. I’ve just had a look and neither appear to have any advertising on them and they don’t appear to be commercial — the website’s Alexa numbers point to it being way too low for that anyway.”
But here’s KidSpot CEO Katie May describing her negotiations with Freedman, also in an email to Crikey: “We know Mia well through our SheSpot representation business (eg we represent her website www.mamamia.com.au in market to media agencies). I spoke to her last April in very broad terms about the concept of justb. It was early days and we were just starting to toy with the theory that Facebook could make an interesting content distribution platform. Mia has plenty of outlets for her talent and the lack of equity we were offering in justb sort of killed any real interest. Fair enough. It was a short, casual conversation.”
Short and casual enough, it seems, for Freedman to have completely forgotten about it.