It was announced earlier today that CBS is buying CNET, one of the top internet media companies in the world, for $1.8 billion dollars, ending a potential hostile takeover from some outside investors.
At first glance, this deal doesn’t make any sense to me. It would seem that CBS has learned nothing from the failed AOL/Time Warner merger of the past or any of the other television media companies that have bought online companies before. The two mediums don’t even seem all that compatible, though I’m sure someone would beg to differ.
The purchase at this price comes from the same people who, a year ago, claimed that they weren’t going to spend big money on online companies, and balked at purchasing YouTube for the same amount of money. That one would have made more sense to me already being a video masterpiece, especially with the vast reserves that CBS has to have at its disposal. Instead, they’re buying a company that, while I’ve loved going to their site and reading their reviews and recommendations on both software and hardware products, has hit some hard times, recently announcing layoffs to come.
Of course, this isn’t their first foray into buying other companies, as they also picked up last.fm for around $280 million, but that one also makes sense, being another media company where CBS has vast reserves and many clients it could promote.
Frankly, I’m not sure I like where all of this is going. Big companies are buying up a lot of these independents and suddenly the thing that made them unique is gone. I still lament Dell buying Alienware and taking away what Alienware stood for, turning it into a milksop version of its former hip and wild self and allowing companies such as Falcon Northwest to replace them. Specialization that we have all enjoyed is going away, and very soon, like AM radio, it’s going to seem like we’re all listening to the same thing everywhere we go.
But don’t get me wrong; if someone offers me a million dollars for any of my websites, I’d sell in a heartbeat!