News Corp. puts Beliefnet on the block
After only three years of ownership, the media giant is seeking a buyer for Beliefnet, a website devoted to religion and spirituality. The decision was first reported by AllThingsD and confirmed by people with knowledge of the situation.
News Corp. acquired Beliefnet for an undisclosed sum in 2007, with plans to integrate it with the company's other faith-based units, including HarperCollin's Zondervan unit, which publishes bibles and Christian titles such as Rick Warren's best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life." Fox Home Entertainment also operates Fox Faith, a label that distributes family films and Christian DVDs to retailers and through churches and ministries.
Beliefnet has won accolades for its content. which spans the spectrum of spirituality, touching upon Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, secular philosophies and more in addition to Christianity and Judaism. However, the number of regular visitors has dropped from about 2.8 million in October of 2007 to about 2.4 million in April, according to comScore. And co-founder Steve Waldman left last fall to take a position with the Federal Communications Commission.
As with other digital assets, News Corp. has decided to jettison Beliefnet as no longer fitting with its strategy. In January the corporation sold its popular movie review site Rotten Tomatoes to Flixster, although it retains a minority stake. A month earlier, it shed its photo sharing site Photobucket, which merged with Ontela, a maker of software that simplifies the process of uploading pictures taken with camera phones to online photo or social networking sites.
News Corp. is also looking to unload its Jamba mobile content business, which is based in Berlin. Fox paid VeriSign Inc. $188 million for a controlling interest in the company in 2006 and paid nearly $200 million to acquire it outright in 2008.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: A manuscript of Practical Kabbalah depicting angels and inscribed with holy names. Credit: Maya Hitij / Associated Press