The rumored tie-in between NBCUniversal and former AllThingsD co-executive editors Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg is now a reality. NBCUniversal News Group tonight announced a strategic investment and content partnership with Revere Digital, the new technology-focused media company launched by Swisher and Mossberg as their contract with News Corp. and its Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal businesses ended December 31. The announced was made at the very moment Revere’s new website, Re/code, went live at midnight ET on January 2. “Kara and Walt are two of the most knowledgeable, well-connected and respected technology journalists working today. They built an incredible brand and business with ‘AllThingsD,’ and we are very excited about partnering with them in this new venture and deepening our engagement in this rapidly changing technology market,” said Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group. Under the partnership, Revere’s breaking news and analysis stories will run simultaneously across NBCUniversal News Group’s multiple media platforms, and Swisher, Mossberg and other Revere journalists will appear on-air across all of the News Group properties including CNBC, MSNBC, Today , and Nightly News With Brian Williams. Additionally, CNBC will become Revere’s media partner for its global conferences.
Related: AllThingsD Founders Announce New Site: Re/Code
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Re/Code is the new website for former AllThingsD co-executive editors Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, who in September split with their old employer the Wall Street Journal effective at the end of 2013. The site is part of their reported tie-up with NBCUniversal that includes a third investor taking a one-third stake in the tech site and conference venture, which Bloomberg had valued at $25M-$35M. There’s not much to report yet about Re/Code, other than a note on its homepage that will go live at midnight ET on January 2. A Twitter feed already has 11,000+ followers. As for WSJ, its tech-happy readers who made AllThingsD a success will be served by WSJD, a site and conferences venture announced today that includes a flagship WSJ.D Conference 2014 in October in Laguna Beach, CA.
This would confirm the rumor that AllThingsD co-executive editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher will have a landing spot at the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal when their current contract with News Corp and its Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal businesses ends at the end of 2013. According to Bloomberg today, the news and conference biz will be majority controlled by Mossberg and Swisher, with NBCU and another unnamed investor taking about a one-third stake to start a newly named site (the name AllThingsD the name stays with News Corp as part of the separation). If the deal makes, expect to see Mossberg and Swisher pop up with technology biz scoops on NBCU news networks like CNBC and MSNBC. At the time of the editors’ split in September, Bloomberg, Conde Nast, Cox and The Washington Post were reportedly interested in the venture, which according to the Bloomberg folks has been valued at $25 million-$35 million.
UPDATED: This has been a long-rumored possibility for the tech blog started in 2007 and run by co-executive editors Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. Fortune first reported that the separation would come at year’s end, when the current partnership agreement expires. News Corp subsidiary Dow Jones would keep the AllThingsD brand and Mossberg will leave behind his Wall Street Journal tech column after being at the paper forever, fellow Dow Jones property WSJ reports. Fortune says potential new investors include NBCUniversal, Bloomberg, Conde Nast, Cox and The Washington Post, which was just acquired by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, a regular on AllThingsD’s digital pages. It also says a formal announcement from AllThingsD is expected later today, so stay tuned. Dow Jones editor-in-chief and WSJ managing editor Gerard Baker said the paper is expanding its technology coverage and conference franchise overseas, and the plan is to build a new digital home for tech coverage “including the addition of 20 reviewers, bloggers, visual journalists, editors and reporters covering digital”.
Less than two hours after Barry Diller extolled the value of his Aereo streaming service on the same stage, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group took a different view. “I think it is wrong. I think it is illegal, I think it is opportunistic piracy,” Anne Sweeney said today. “It’s taking advantage of our content”, she added. ABC is one of the broadcasters suing the Diller-backed Aereo for copyright infringement. Earlier in the day, Diller had spoken of how he was glad the broadcasters had sued him because of all the attention it brought the small but growing service.
Related: Barry Diller Says Aereo Expanding Further Read More »
“Those two channels are covering political news. We’re covering politics and much more,” Jeff Zucker said today of Fox News and MSNBC. “Our competition now is two political channels that have actually left most of the actual news coverage to the side,” he also said. The CNN chief was appearing Wednesday with IAC chair Barry Diller at this year’s D11 conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes. “News is how you define it, we define it broadly as news and information. We’re expanding the audience that is watching CNN. In order to be successful, we need to bring new viewers,” he added stressing that elements of CNN programming have more in common now with Discovery and Nat Geo than FNC and MSNBC. “The key to us is to make CNN essential on whatever platform it is on,” Zucker noted. He added that his cable news rivals “do a good job” at what they cover.
Related: Barry Diller Confirms Newsweek Is For Sale, Says Aereo Expanding Further
“Protecting the brand is the key and one of the things I’ve been so warmed by is how strong and vibrant the CNN brand continues to be even when their ratings have not been what they used to be,” Zucker responded to a question from the audience about some of the less than hard news stories the network has covered since he took over. “I don’t think that hurt the CNN brand, he said of the network’s extensive coverage of the crippled Carnival Triumph cruise liner earlier this year. Zucker also was on the defensive about errors that CNN have made under his watch. “We made a mistake in Boston and we corrected it within 45 minutes of airing. The Boston Globe, who I think will probably win the Pulitzer Prize for their Boston coverage, didn’t correct for hours,” he said of the cable news network’s incorrect on-air assertion that an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon bombing case.
Related: CNN’s Jeff Zucker Says News & Generational Change Will Mark ‘New Day’ Read More »
“I got seduced into Newsweek,” said Barry Diller today about his plan to sell the new magazine brand. “We started Daily Beast and it worked really well and we built up nice audiences. But we somehow got into Newsweek, this news book, and it has taken a year and a half of focus unfortunately and I want to get back to the Daily Beast“. The IAC chief would not say how much he wanted for the now-shuttered weekly newsmag or who is interested. “It much better belongs in a widely diversified publishing company,” was all he added. Diller was appearing Wednesday with CNN chief Jeff Zucker at this year’s D11 conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes.
Regrading his Aereo streaming service, Diller said it is spreading out to 22 more cities in the next few months, and that if it gets to 15 million-20 million homes “we can start our own programming”. And legal battles with broadcasters are only helping his cause. “I’m happy they sued us because its gotten Aereo known to more people. All this drama is good for us,” Diller said. “It is very overblown this thing. I don’t want to beat up broadcasters…I want to move the line to open Internet systems.” He added, “I think the more video, all forms of video, you can get over the Internet protocols, … Read More »
Apple‘s Tim Cook faced the billion-dollar question right off the bat at the annual AllThingsD tech conference Tuesday night: “Is Apple in trouble?” The CEO threw out a few calculated bones: the unveiling of a new iOS and OS X refresh in June at its WWDC conference, the hire of ex-EPA head Lisa Jackson as the company’s new environmental czar. But, as he did last year, Cook again skirted the toughest topics in his second visit to the AllThingsD tech conference leaving Applewatchers frustrated. “We believe very much in the element of surprise,” he said. “We think customers love surprises.” (UPDATE: Check out the full conversation below.)
If shareholders are concerned over Apple’s dipping stock prices — down 36% since September — Cook appeared unfazed. “The beauty of being around for a while is you see a lot of cycles,” he said. “Our North Star is always on making the best products. So we always come back to that.” But for all the emphasis on quality of usage, e-commerce and customer satisfaction over the number of units sold in the smartphone arena, Cook didn’t offer new-product reveals or the kind of game-changers Apple needs to maintain the pace set by the late Steve Jobs. (He did reveal that Apple bought 9 companies in the past year but didn’t announce them all.) Pressed on why Apple doesn’t expand its iPhone line with larger screens, stylus tablets, or cheaper alternative models like its competitors do, Cook blamed the trade-offs involved in crafting variants in a line versus improving the same model. “Are we now at a point that we need to do that?” he asked. Read More »
Possible buyers are hovering around the popular tech news site, and founders Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are talking with News Corp about the future of the partnership, Reuters reports, citing “sources familiar with the situation.” Things are in flux because AllThingsD‘s contract with News Corp expires this year — and Rupert Murdoch’s company is in the process of spinning off its publishing operations. Swisher and Mossberg must provide a new business plan to the company next week, the news service says. It describes the relationship between the two sides as “amicable but stressed.” A separation could become complicated unless both agree; News Corp owns the name “AllThingsD,” but it needs Swisher and Mossberg’s approval to sell the operation. Conde Nast and Hearst apparently have expressed an interest in buying the site. But there’s also speculation that Guggenheim Digital Media CEO Ross Levinsohn — who oversees The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Adweek — might want in. When he took the job last month, financial services firm Guggenheim Partners said it “anticipates allocating significant capital to acquire and invest in new media companies and properties that will meaningfully expand its current portfolio.”
“I’m going to piss a lot of people off,” Ari Emanuel told the AllThingsD conference tonight. And in a room of tech execs, the WME boss kept his word. “Where Google decides to play in this piracy issue, plus Verizon, AT&T, is very crucial for our industry and I’m concerned they’re going to wait it out,” Emanuel to told AllThingsD co-founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in front of a packed house. “If they don’t stop the stealing of content I think it is going to be a problem.” Emanuel, who promised not to swear or hit anyone, was very clear to name names and point out where in the “pipes” he sees the theft of his clients’ and Hollywood’s content coming from. “We need Northern California to figure out how to keep our intellectual property from being stolen. If Google was in China, and their stuff was being stolen, they would leave China, right?” Emanuel didn’t miss the opportunity to chastise Silicon Valley and their industry for allowing the stealing of content and the scuttling of antipiracy legislation. “Ask Google, ask Verizon why they haven’t come to the table?”
Asked in the Q&A what exactly he’d like Google to do, Emanuel said “I’d like them to start filtering when people are stealing our product internationally, that’s their responsibility.” In a heated exchange with one questioner, Emanuel made his point emphatically, telling the guy to sit down to wide applause. … Read More »
Aaron Sorkin said today that he had a lot of hesitation about tackling a movie about Steve Jobs. “It is a little like writing about The Beatles,” Sorkin said at the AllThingsD conference this morning. Sorkin said he “saw a minefield of disappointment” from Jobs aficionados in taking on the script for the recently announced film based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography. While the Oscar winner says it’s difficult “to shake the cradle to grave” approach of a book like Isaacson’s when adapting it for the screen, Sorkin says his approach is “going to identify the point of friction that appeals to me.” Sorkin, who received blowback for liberties he took with the actual life of Mark Zuckerberg in 2010’s The Social Network, told the conference crowd that they should think of biopics as “a painting, not a photograph.” Read More »
Problem is, Apple CEO Tim Cook won’t say what they are. He told the AllThingD conference tonight that he has never been so amazed as he is by “all the things I cannot talk about today.” In fact, Cook said the notoriously tight-lipped Apple would “double down on secrecy on products”. On the TV front, however, Cook made no secret of his enthusiasm for Steve Jobs’ pledge to change television with Apple TV like iTunes changed music. “We have a good relationship with the content owners,” Cook replied when asked about Apple and the Hollywood studios. “I’ve met with several of them recently; they were talking about what more we could do with them.” (Cook made a point of noting his respect for what Apple board member Bob Iger has accomplished at Disney.) Cook wouldn’t disclose what those discussions with Hollywood were about, except to say, “most people would say that TV is not an area of their life they are completely pleased with.” Read More »