CNN Rumored to Buy Mashable.com for $200 Million
It seems the latest trend in the online media buying market—purchasable blogs—may be more than a trend, as another legendary media company has joined the ranks of blog purchasers. According to an insider, CNN, which has built a legendary reputation in the traditional media world, is looking to branch out in an innovative way and enter the new, albeit unpredictable online blogging market through their purchase of the tech-news blog Mashable.com.
The investment should be a safe bet. Mashable boasts over 200 million unique users a month who come to the blog site for all of the latest technology and social media news. In many ways, they have a monopoly on a niche market, as tech-savvy readers view the progressive site as a sort of media-news Mecca, often returning daily.
Started in 2005 by 22-year-old Pete Cashmore, the site has exploded onto the scene with its superior content grouping, which insiders say is the key to its viable success.
CNN's acquisition of Mashable would be bankable, however “would” is a vital variable in this story, as this alliance may only be a myth. The rumor was started by Rueters blogger Felix Salmon, who –with much sophistication-- reported from this year's South By Southwest festival, “A little birdie told me that CNN is going to announce the acquisition to buy social media giant Mashable,” adding that the announcement would be made Tuesday.
Mr. Salmon may be swimming upstream alone on this speculation—as absolutely verifiable sources have denied the rumor...those verifiable sources being the CEO and owner of the company. It appears Pete Cashmore claims Mr. Salmon’s bird-talking was a St. Francis-flight-of-fancy delusion, as Cashmore vehemently denied the rumors as false and fabricated.
So is this a case of citizen blogging gone awry? Or is perhaps Mr. Cashmore playing an old fashioned game of cat and mouse with an accurately perceptive press?
We should know the final decision by the end of tomorrow, however even just the prospect of the merging raises a great discussion on the future of blogging as a commercial commodity.
Great hope has come to independent bloggers and writers, who view the current free market landscape of the internet as the new wild, wild west. However, what does it say that their efforts are now bought, and exploited for the commercial gain of the already established few? Well for one, it says blogs are a hot commodity in today’s customizable, niche-audience market, already commanding financial respect from companies like Yahoo, AOL, and CNN.
Take for instance last year’s massive Huffington Post acquisition, which sold for a whopping $315 million dollars to AOL. Obviously the specificity and insights of blogs are proving lucrative, but can a broad company like CNN maintain the quality of citizen journaling that readers have come to appreciate? If the Huffington Post’s continued readership success can attest, the future looks bright for such an alliance.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.