Newspaper Chains Gain Major Stake in

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-03-23 Print this article Print

Gannett, Knight Ridder and the Tribune Co. collectively take a 75 percent stake in the startup news-search service.

Three of the nations largest newspaper and television chains have gained a majority stake in news search engine The search startup will announce Wednesday that Gannett Co. Inc., Knight Ridder Inc. and the Tribune Co. each have acquired a 25 percent stake in
The investment comes about a year after launched its service, which indexes, aggregates and categorizes news from about 10,000 online sources.
Topix.nets founders are keeping the remaining 25 percent share in the company and will continue to manage and operate it as a standalone company, said CEO and co-founder Rich Skrenta. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. "It was really too good of a deal to pass up—to have their 140 newspapers, TV stations and online assets and their funding behind us," Skrenta said. The deal with the media companies marks the first major funding for, which turned its first profit in December. With the investment, the company plans to expand its services and technology and grow its nine-person staff, based in Palo Alto, Calif. Though was not actively seeking funding, Knight Ridder executives approached it with an investment proposal following meetings in November about partnering, Skrenta said. has gained attention over the past year through a series of partnerships with search engines and media companies, which are tapping its syndicated news feeds. Those feeds include news that can be targeted to local ZIP codes. It has struck deals with America Online Inc., Ask Jeeves Inc., InfoSpace Inc. and Citysearch. Earlier this year, the New York Times also began paying to feature its articles in various categories of the news search service. The major Web search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN also have focused on news search, expanding the way users can aggregate and customize online news. Not all publishers are welcoming online news aggregation. Click here to read about wire service Agence France Presses lawsuit against Google News. and its three media investors are looking at ways of tapping into each others content and technology. For example, a few months ago began using its own relevancy algorithms with the Google AdSense sponsored links appearing on in order to more closely target the ads to its specialized news categories, Skrenta said. could use the same categorization algorithms to help Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune better target their advertising content, which ranges from classified ads to real-estate section advertorial, Skrenta said. The three media conglomerates also are partners in such sites as and Next Page: No influence on how displays news.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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