Over the last couple years, Forbes has shed scores of writers and editors in multiple rounds of downsizing. Now, with the stroke of a pen, it has added hundreds of new ones.
Forbes Media, parent company of the 93-year-old business magazine, has acquired True/Slant, a blogging community for journalists founded last year by former AOL executive Lewis Dvorkin. "Some start-ups continue on as separate entities and build a business," wrote Dvorkin in a blog post announcing the sale. "Others become entrepreneurs within a larger company to effect change through technology innovation, new processes, creative thinking and more."
Ties between the two companies were already close. Forbes was a ground-floor investor in True/Slant. Dvorkin spent four years as executive editor of Forbes, and recently returned there on a consulting basis, overseeing a redesign. As part of the sale, he will become the company's chief product officer with responsibility for all editorial.
The news raises plenty of questions, starting with the purchase price, which PaidContent estimates as "low single-digit millions at best, if that." I emailed Dvorkin to ask about that and other matters but haven't heard back yet. The price Forbes paid is far from academic for many True/Slant contributors: The site's bloggers, who are mostly professional journalists writing in their areas of expertise, are all paid for their work, a point that stands in contrast to the practice of, say, the Huffington Post. Early on, True/Slant was offering some bloggers the option of taking their compensation in the form of equity -- meaning, presumably, that they'll now share in the payday.
Now's the part where I note that I am among True/Slant's contributors, although possibly not for long: In his blog post, Dvorkin writes, "As True/Slant transitions, some of you may be interested in moving with us to Forbes" -- suggesting that not all of the site's 300-plus bloggers will be along for the ride. (I opted for cash, by the way.) Already, Matt Taibbi, the site's most popular writer, has announced that he won't be hanging around. (Coates Bateman, executive director of programming at True/Slant, says Taibbi has a new, exclusive contract with Rolling Stone.)
How will Forbes seek to integrate True/Slant's remaining writers into its existing platforms? The company has been looking to expand its roster of bloggers lately, extending invitations to contribute, sans pay. That doesn't seem to bode well for the True/Slanties, who currently can earn substantial bonuses for hitting traffic targets.
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