CNET buys Silicon.com

40 Redundos

Update CNET Networks is buying the UK assets of Silicon.com, after management at the European online IT news service failed to persuade its VCs to support its continued independence.

Terms are undisclosed, but we suspect the price will be paid in peanuts, certainly not enough to cover the £30m+ investment made by Silicon shareholders. According to Net Imperative, which interviewed ZDNET UK marketing director Susan Rundell, the sale was made for 'far less than $5m'.

Also an asset sale means that that liabilities are left behind - landlords, staff etc.

According to emails circulating around the London IT publishing scene last night, most of the 53 UK staff are to be made redundant. Rundell told Net Imperative that 20 Silicon staff will join CNET, of which 16, including just three journalists, will stay permanently.

But in an interview with the Guardian's Sarah Left (a former Silicon.com journalist), CEO Tom Bureau said the site would retain its editorial flavour and quality. Difficult to see how this will be achieved, without it turning into a CNET clone. Bureau's moving to CNET's UK offices at Tower Bridge, London along with the Silicon.com survivors.

The future of Silicon's lossmaking French and German ops is unclear. We don't think there's much prospect of either surviving, with Germany looking particularly grim.

And whither CNET in Europe? Our sources says that its management team has been given six months to turn the business around, or face closure. With Silicon, it knocks out a strong UK competitor, and gains proprietary recruitment and strong email marketing services.

But in publishing takeovers 2+2 rarely = 4. A hollowed-out Silicon.com will see CNET gain through cost-cutting. But it will be difficult to see how the company will retain combined advertising market share.

For more background, check out our story from a couple of weeks ago: CNET sniffs Silicon.com. ®

Silicon press release

Sponsored: Today’s most dangerous security threats