About.com sale: An insider’s view

According to a former AOL-Netscape colleague of mine, who also used to work at IDG over a 15-year career with both Peter Horan and Kelly Conlin, the really interesting story on the About.com sale is two-fold.
He says to pay attention to:

1. The NYT’s angle on buying it, and what that says about the future of print newspapers. It’s clear that NYT management realizes that a strong Internet presence is mandatory to tie together communities of readers and advertisers. Classified advertising and Jobs Wanted advertising are the largest profit makers in the Newspaper business. About.com can bridge those communities and enhance just about every NYT print property they own.

2. Primedia’s reason for selling it to reshape its portfolio, pay down enormous debt, and streamline a previously unwieldy company that was out of control under the previous leader. Kelly has done a yeoman’s job of creating the metrics through which each publisher and division must jump. The stock has moved higher over the last few months because I think many investors see that the team there is getting a handle on the business. Frankly, I would have wanted to hold onto about.com…but, at $410M sale price, that helps reduce the debt significantly. In business, you sometime have to make short-term decisions to ensure there is a long-term future. It is a tremendously smart move on Primedia’s part to reduce debt now.