J2 Global Acquires BabyCenter
In case you missed it: late last week, Johnson & Johnson sold BabyCenter—the online parenting and pregnancy resource that claims to reach “7 in 10 new and expectant moms in the U.S.” across its website, newsletters, social media channels and apps—to Everyday Health Group, a division of J2 Global, the Los Angeles-based parent company of Ziff Davis.
Neither side is disclosing terms of the deal, which will combine the strength of 22-year-old BabyCenter with a competitor, WhatToExpect.com—based on the bestselling book by Heidi Murkoff—which itself claims to register 60% of all U.S. pregnancies on its apps and website, as well as a community of 13 million engaged users.
“This acquisition brings together two influential brands in the pregnancy and parenting space so they can work together to provide the best set of solutions for expecting mothers and families of young children,” said Heidi Cho, a former Rodale exec who J2 hired last year as EVP and GM of Everyday Health Group’s pregnancy and parenting unit.
J2, which did $1.3 billion in revenue with $512 million in EBIDTA last year, acquired Everyday Health Group, then a publicly traded company, in late 2016 for $465 million.
Founded in 1997 by a pair of Stanford grads and funded with $13.5 million in venture capital, with an initial focus on media that eventually expanded to e-commerce, BabyCenter had swelled to 175 employees and $35 million in annual revenue when it was sold, in 1999, to web startup and eventual dot-com-bubble casualty eToys for $190 million in stock. When eToys filed for chapter 11 two years later, Johnson & Johnson snatched up BabyCenter for just $10 million, scrapping e-commerce and focusing solely on media after 2009.
Shares of Meredith Corp., the largest consumer magazine publisher in the U.S., closed down 23% Thursday at $33.68—the company’s lowest stock price since 2013—following its Q4 earnings call, the first full-year fiscal report since finalizing a $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. early in 2018 (Meredith’s fiscal years start on July 1 and end on June 30).
The stock decline came after Meredith revealed that it expects its earnings from continuing operations to range from $197 to $220 million in fiscal 2020, or $2.58 to $2.88 per share—well below consensus estimates of more than $6 per share, an adjustment Harty said was primarily due to a longer-than-expected turnaround in advertising performance for many of the titles the company acquired from Time Inc.
“As a reminder, advertising revenues at these titles were declining in the 20% plus range when we acquired them,” Harty explained. “Our team and our business have made significant progress.”
Harty noted that the company’s business is now more diversified than it was pre-merger—with half of all revenues now consumer-related and digital now accounting for one-third of all national media group advertising revenue—and that it paid down $825 million in debt and increased its quarterly shareholder dividends by 5.5% in fiscal 2019. Additional detail on Harty’s integration plan can be found here.
Outside Integrated Media, publisher of Outside magazine, seeks a digital ad ops manager based out of its Boulder, Colo. office, responsible for all online display, native, video and podcast advertising campaigns on the brand’s digital properties. At least three years of ad ops experience, preferably with a media company, desired.
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