Brill closes Contentville

Inside.com may not be affected

HOLLYWOOD — Steven Brill has shuttered Contentville, his much ballyhooed e-commerce site, originally backed by such partners as CBS, NBC and Wall Street analyst James Cramer.

The Web portal, unveiled in February 2000, sold such material as magazines, articles, books, e-books, dissertations and screenplays. At the time of its launch, Brill likened it to “an old-time magazine stand, bookstore, or library.”

An ambitious venture, whose high-profile marketing campaign included ads on network TV, Contentville confronted several obstacles. The National Writers Union was called in to broker a deal between Brill and freelance writers who accused him of copyright infringement. As the dot- com economy flagged, insiders questioned the Contentville business model, and the company downsized in the months leading up to the merger of Brill Media Holdings and Powerful Media last spring — a merger that led to sizable layoffs both at Brill’s Content and at Inside.com.

Contentville’s 15 employees were pink-slipped Friday. In a memo to staff, Brill said “because … Contentville is a separate entity with separate partners and financing, these are the only people affected.” He added that the venture didn’t fail as a result of the downturn of the dot-com economy or the events of September 11. “My idea for Contentville just didn’t work,” he said.

Inside.com — whose stripped-down news site now serves as the home page for Primemedia’s Media Central trade titles, like Folio and Cableworld — may not be affected by the collapse of Contentville.

But the timing doesn’t augur well for Brill’s other business ventures.

Inside.com has recently increased its dependence on transaction fees — a system that may not prove sustainable in a rocky economy. In May, Brill’s Content, which used to appear 10 times a year, became a quarterly. And Primedia shares are in trouble, falling 5.6% Friday to $2.35, a steady downward trajectory from more than $17 a year ago.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Digital News from Variety

Loading