Guardian to Buy PaidContent

Digital Media Site's Founder Rafat Ali to Stay On

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NEW YORK ( -- Guardian News & Media is buying ContentNext, the company that owns the digital media site PaidContent. While the price was not disclosed, reports out this morning said the deal was more than $30 million, including earn-out provisions that will depend on the future of the company.
Rafat Ali
Rafat Ali

This comes on the heels of Conde Nast's purchase of Ars Technica in May for $25 million and last year's purchase of MediaBistro by Jupiter Media for $23 million. According to Quantcast, monthly page views for ContentNext's sites are just more than 214,000. MediaBistro's total monthly page views are estimated to be 808,000 and Ars Technica's are 623,000.

The newly acquired entity will be called ContentNext Media and will be a stand-alone company under Guardian News & Media, which is the news division of Guardian Media Group.

Support for growth
Tim Brooks, managing director of Guardian News and Media, said, "We haven't bought it to crunch it into our own templates or formulae. We don't want to change it into something else." While Guardian Media will have an editorial hands-off approach, they will provide web and technical support to help the 2.0 business grow in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

Guardian Media has long admired the work of Rafat Ali, who started PaidContent six years ago in his studio apartment and is the site's editor and publisher. Mr. Brooks said the two companies discussed doing business almost since PaidContent's inception. "This was not an auction," he said. "We have known and admired Rafat's work for a long time. He is a journalist of the highest integrity."

Mr. Ali will stay on in his current role as editor. "Everyone is staying on," he said. "On Monday, we'll go back to normal. We'll just have a lot more stability." Mr. Ali said Guardian and ContentNext were a good fit, both in terms of culture and journalism. "I've know people from The Guardian for years and years," he said, "and they've always joked that we should be part of them."

Scouting business models
ContentNext is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and New York City and owns several websites covering the business of digital media:,, and PaidContent:UK. The company describes its mission on its website as a chronicle of "the economic evolution of digital content that is shaping the future of the media, information and entertainment industries. Our belief is that in the near future, all media will be digital media, and we are helping define sustainable business models and innovation within this sector."
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