I’ve been off most of this week on a family-related trip, but (thanks to the Wi-Fi at the trailer park) I had to take note of the deal that Guardian Media just did to acquire PaidContent, a story broken by the ever-resourceful Kara Swisher of All Things D. Rafat Ali, the former journalist who founded the company several years ago, is a smart guy — but I would argue that Guardian Media is even smarter. They have seen how quickly and relatively easily Rafat and his team of writers have been able to build a powerful digital-media company with a reputation for quality reporting and coverage of the media business — and not the showbiz personality side, but the actual nuts and bolts.
In effect, Rafat has built something that in an earlier time would have been a magazine — a trade mag perhaps, not unlike something Ziff-Davis or CMP would have owned. But he was able to do it substantially cheaper and faster, and I would argue that the entity he created is infinitely more flexible and adaptable than any printed magazine (and when I say that he did it quickly and easily, obviously it took years of hard work and vision by Rafat). Kudos to him and the rest of the team. Jemima Kiss at the Guardian, who knows Rafat well and has written for PaidContent, has some more on the deal. PaidContent will become part of the trade-press and professional services division of Guardian Media. My friend Om Malik has some worthwhile thoughts on the deal as well.
Kara says she’s been asking around to see who else in the online space might get snapped up, and apparently TechCrunch has been talking to AOL about a deal in the $20-million to $30-million range. I’ve got an email in to Mike Arrington to see if he has any comment.