The people behind the All Things Digital news website and conference will part ways with The Wall Street Journal at the end of the year, ending a two-decade run for personal tech columnist Walt Mossberg at the Journal, after failing to reach a new deal.
Mr. Mossberg and journalist Kara Swisher, who both led the AllThingsD events and news outlet owned by Dow Jones & Co., won't renew their contracts when they expire by the end of this year, according to a statement from the company, confirming a report by Fortune. In their absence, Dow Jones said it will expand its technology coverage and conference business.
Mr. Mossberg's weekly technology column was a first-read for consumers deciding whether to buy the latest iPhone or upgrade computer software. The AllThingsD conference has been lucrative for the past decade, consistently selling out its limited 500-seat event every year with guests such as Apple's Steve Jobs, Microsoft.'s Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, who controls Dow Jones parent News Corp.
Mr. Mossberg and Ms. Swisher have approached other media companies, including the New York Times, about a joint venture to create a similar conference under a new brand, according to three executives familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
Tickets to AllThingsD's most recent conference, at the end of May, cost $5,500 each, for a total of $2.75 million. The conference also takes sponsors -- such as Oracle and Sony Corp. -- which pay as much as $400,000 each, adding up to more revenue than ticket sales generate, according to two people with direct knowledge of the business.
The website only brings in about $3 million to $4 million in annual ad revenue, most of it tied to deals that also run across Dow Jones's other sites, such as Wsj.com, one of the people said. As a stand-alone entity, AllThingsD.com would only generate about $1 million a year, the person said.
The company declined to comment on what will happen to the AllThingsD brand. AllThingsD recently added two new events -- one focused on media and another on the mobile industry -- in an effort to expand the franchise.
Dow Jones Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker said the publisher plans to expand the Wall Street Journal's technology coverage and will extend its conference business to include an international event. He praised Mr. Mossberg's contributions to the publication.
"I want to offer heartfelt thanks for more than 20 years of Personal Technology columns as well as his very fine reporting on national and international affairs in the years before he turned his attention to technology coverage," Mr. Baker said in the statement.
News Corp. split off from Mr. Murdoch's entertainment business, now called 21st Century Fox Inc., earlier this year.
~ Bloomberg News ~
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