Thursday, June 3, 2010

Morning Brief: Newsweek draws 3 bids; Wild West days of the iPad; Pandora funding reaches $57 million level

Bloomberg is reporting that the Washignton Post Co. has drawn three bids for Newsweek by yesterday's deadline: OpenGate Capital LLC, Newsmax Media Inc., and Thane Ritchie, who is the CEO of Ritchie Capital Management LLC but has supposedly put in a personal bid.

Newsweek, which recently launched an iPad app that
has been savagely panned in iTunes, drew three bidders.

No word on other prospective bidders, including current editor Jon Meatham who had previously expressed an interest in finding a partner for a bid attempt.

As you'd expect, there was no word about bid levels.

These early days of tablet publishing are like the Wild West, sometimes it looks like chaos, sometimes people or companies spring up and you can wonder "where did they come from?"
Take, for instance, the strange tale of this app, the first iPad app I've seen dedicated to classified advertising. According to iTunes the app is a product of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, part of MediaNews Group, and includes the L.A. Daily News and Torrance Daily Breeze (disclosure: I used to work for the Santa Monica Outlook when it was owned by Copley LA Newspapers -- and included in its group the Daily Breeze).

But if you look closer, well, things get a little stranger. Clicking on the link in iTunes takes you to a dedicated website for app, called SoCal2Go Classifieds for iPad. You can read the entire site in five seconds because there is nothing there. Is this app really from the L.A. Newspaper Group, I ask myself.

A further search in iTunes and later online reveals that this app, and a similarly named app for mobile coupons is really the work of a company called COUPONSmeme Inc. which develops apps under the name MobiQpons. And all of that is the work of one person: Navneet Aron. Aron is a Stanford grad who used to be a software engineer and development manager at Intuit and is now the founder of MobiQpons.

What any of this has to do with the L.A. Newspaper Group I do not know. But like I said, it is the Wild West Days of tablet publishing. I just wonder if the newspaper knows they have an app?

Pandora, the online radio company has raised another round of capital, meaning the company has now raised $57 million since its founding. The newest round was led by GSV Capital, with Allen & Company participating.
The music service now has more than 50 million users who get music from Pandora on their web browser, smartphone or iPad. As TNM wrote in March, Pandora paid $28 million to SoundExchange, the performance rights entity that collects royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners.

Pandora is in a race to find a sustainable business model. It has proved itself with consumers and is creating alliances with electronics makers who are integrating access to Pandora into their Blu-Ray players and other devices. Recently the company brought in former CFO Steve Cakebread to be in the same position at Pandora.

1 Comment:

Navneet Aron said...

I'm Navneet, Founder & CEO of MobiQpons. I came across this article and thought I should shed some light on the speculations above.

We have a partnership with Los Angeles News Group(LANG) where we have white labeled the MobiQpons application to their brand SoCal2Go. LANG is still developing this brand and its content.

I can be reached at