Monday, April 28, 2008

HotelChatter and Jaunted sold to CondeNet (Conde Nast) - I'm confused is the travel blog business viable or not?

I'm confused. Two weeks ago Gawker Media (one of the top blogging networks) sold the relatively popular travel blog Gridskipper. This was a clear indication that a blog media barron (Nick Denton) believes there was more money in gossip, gadets, games and girls than in travel. This is despite plenty of evidence that Gridskipper is the number on travel blog out there (see Guillame's Nov 07 ranking list for example). This weekend the Sunday Times in London listed Nick Denton as being worth GBP140mm - based on Gawker. Now I think this number is complete baloney but Denton's successful reading of the need for a blog media network is clear. So if Denton thinks there is no money in online travel blogs then surely this is true.

Not according to CondeNet (online arm of Conde Nast). They just bought SFO Media - the owners of travel blogs Jaunted and HotelChatter. TechCrunch has the story and information on the roll up with Conde Nast's In the blogging world I am willing to beton Denton rather than Conde Nast but at the same time if TripAdvisor's roll-up strategy is anything to go by then there is a nice traffic business developing in online travel blog/content aggregation. This is also supported by the raising last week of $15mm in VC funding by Travel Ad Network led by Rho Ventures, Village Ventures (industry standard story here). Travel Ad Network includes in its network LonelyPlanet, Rand McNally, FlightView, Viator, Rough Guides,, HotelsByCity and claims to be the number three traffic network behind Expedia and "Travelport" [sic] (clearly this needs updating for ownership changes at Travelport subsidiaries). So who will have regrets first - Denton ditching Gridskipper or Conde Nast for buying SFO Media? If the Sunday times is right then it probably doesn't matter...

1 comment:

Pete said...

I think Nick is trying to re-focus Gawker on a handful of shared-interest verticals rather than be spread too thin across unrelated categories. Gawker Media's staff sees constant turnover and it would be easier to manage the network's portfolio with a greater focus, while also providing greater depth and continue building cross-blog community.

Who knows about the GBP 140mm figure, but if so, go Nick!