I love stories of reinvention. That’s why I was drawn to a short piece in The Wall Street Journal about a Web 1.0 company called About.com changing its name to Dotdash.
I knew right away there was something vaguely Morse Code-ish about the name. When I was a little boy I learned only one bit of Morse Code, that dot-dot-dot-dash stood for V as in victory. It turns out that dot-dash is the later A, a play on About.com’s now former name.
As for the new Dotdash, it’s a collection of web sites focused on niche subjects. These include The Balance for personal finance, Verywell for health, and so on. As a an employee of a “title”—as we like to say these days rather than magazine—that is highly focused on a single subject, business, I get the company’s strategy. About.com was about answers to random questions. The new site, owned by IAC, doesn’t want to be random anymore.
More radical still, Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel says the company will pursue a less-is-more strategy. When we met recently he explained to me that About.com’s massive inventory of stale stories wasn’t serving it well anymore. What performs best on the search-engine-optimized and social-media-juiced Internet today are a few good stories. Content mills churn out commoditized crap; focused sites produce higher-valued information.
The Journal has a nice synopsis of 20-year-old About.com’s one-way valuation trajectory over the years: $690 million when Primedia bought it, $410 million when The New York Times acquired it, and $300 million when IAC snapped it up.
The niftiest reinvention of all would be printing a Dotdash valuation that increases.
I’ll be reporting Tuesday and Wednesday from Fortune Brainstorm Health in San Diego, our conference on the intersection of health care and information technology. Former Vice President Joe Biden takes the stage Tuesday night, ostensibly to talk about marshaling resources for cancer research. You think he’ll want to talk politics too?
BITS AND BYTES
What goes up. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices may have been priced for perfection. The Intel rival reported results on Monday afternoon that were mostly in line with what Wall Street expected, but its shares are down more than 10% in pre-market trading. Revenue from more lucrative server chips was a little light, and analysts were concerned that an expected increase of sales of new Ryzen chips won’t immediately improve margins. But the outsized reaction to the modest disappoint suggests investors have very high hopes for the stock, which has quadruped over the past year. (Fortune)
Nothing to see here. It’s Apple’s turn to report financial earnings on Tuesday afternoon as the iPhone maker reveals the results of, generally, its least exciting quarter. The company doesn’t often release new products in the first three months of the year, its fiscal second quarter, and analysts are expecting a fairly blah report with iPhone sales coming in at about the same 52 million level as last year. All eyes are on the fall, for the first new hardware redesign of the iPhone in three years. (Wall Street Journal)
Keeping it simple for schools. Microsoft’s event on Tuesday morning might be more interesting. The software giant is expected to unveil a version of Windows to compete with Google’s simple Chrome operating system, especially in the education market. And rumors are Microsoft might also have a new laptop to show that will compete head on with low-cost Chromebooks. (The Verge)
Net neutrality on the docket. A full federal appeals court decided not to revisit a 2016 ruling by three of its judges upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s rules barring Internet service providers from blocking, slowing or otherwise discriminating against online sites and services. (Fortune)
But despite the court victory, the rules are now in play, with Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai moving to reverse the agency’s Obama-era efforts. In a parallel effort in Congress, nine Republican senators led by Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill on Monday to cancel the rules. (The Hill)
Outsource looks to insource. Indian outsourcing firm Infosys said it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the United States over the next two years. The company, planning to open more four U.S. offices, didn’t mention President Donald Trump’s efforts to convince employers to hire more domestic workers. (New York Times)
Fewer Plumbing Lists. Media conglomerate IAC bid more than $500 million to buy online reviews site Angie’s List. IAC—whose businesses include Match.com, Ask.com, and Tinder—said it plans to merge Angie’s List with its rival web business, HomeAdvisor. (Fortune)
Twitter’s deal with news titan Bloomberg won’t just be another push to put cable television channels online, Fortune senior writer Mathew Ingram notes in an analysis.
Instead, the stream will mix original Bloomberg videos made just for Twitter with videos posted by Twitter’s own huge base of users. That means the deal should aid Twitter’s effort to highlight some of the most interesting content scattered across the service for users who might be pressed for time or only visit Twitter occasionally, as it did with its Moments feature and the expanded “Discover” tab.
The deal is also heating up speculation that Bloomberg might eventually acquire Twitter. “There are some obvious benefits that might be achieved by such a combination, including the addition of social features for Bloomberg, which has been behind the curve on such things for some time,” Ingram writes.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
About.com Has a New Name and a New Strategy by Mathew Ingram
Hulu Adds NBC to Its Live TV Lineup by Michal Lev-Ram
Automation Jobs Will Put 10,000 Humans to Work, Study Says by Stacy Jones
Watch Last-Minute Construction at Apple’s Spaceship by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
What’s the most loved Apple device? Think it has to be the iPhone, which sells the most? Maybe the iPad, which offers a big screen on the go? Or is it diehard Mac lovers loving their laptops? Nope. In a new survey done by Creative Strategies and Experian, it was Apple’s new AirPods that received a record high satisfaction rating of 98%. (Techpinions)