CNN will sell the Zite news app to tablet magazine app startup Flipboard — which will shut down the Zite service — as part of a broader deal that includes a partnership between the two companies for content distribution and joint ad sales.
Execs said financial terms of the deal were not being disclosed. CNN originally reported that the Flipboard deal was “valued at $60 million” but a PR rep for the news cabler said that was not accurate. The CNN story later was updated with a correction appended that said “the value of the deal could reach as high as $60 million over time,” according to an unnamed source.
While not disclosing specifics, the value of the deal includes the Zite sale and “also involves the long-term advertising partnership between Flipboard and CNN Digital,” said CNN public relations manager Erica Puntel.
CNN acquired Zite, an iPad news app designed to give users a personalized, magazine-like experience, in 2011. The Turner-owned network paid “just over $20 million” for Zite, AllThingsD reported at the time. The Zite app — which did not gain much traction under CNN’s wing — is similar to Flipboard’s, which aggregates articles from news sites and social networks.
San Francisco-based Zite has fewer than 20 employees, most of whom will be joining Flipboard, according to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.
Under the pact, CNN talent including Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper and John King will launch digital magazines for Flipboard, which claims to have 100 million users worldwide. In addition, Flipboard is adding about 30 topic-oriented feeds from CNN to its app.
CNN and Flipboard also will team up to sell mobile ads, targeting large brand advertisers, for display advertising “of the kind you see in (print) magazines,” McCue said.
KC Estenson, senior VP and GM of CNN Digital, said the network will “create new revenue opportunities” and expand its mobile audience through the Flipboard partnership. “With this deal, CNN is invested in the long-term success of Flipboard,” he said.
Flipboard, based in Palo Alto, Calif., was founded in 2010. The company has raised $161 million from venture-capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer, Index Ventures and Insight Venture Partners as well as other investors including The Chernin Group, Ashton Kutcher, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.
Mark Johnson, who was CEO of Zite, will not be joining Flipboard, Estenson said. In a post on LinkedIn, Johnson said he will take some time off before deciding what to do next. “I’ve grown as a CEO and I’m very proud of my team. However, after being at four different successful startups, I’ve never started one myself and it’s time to change that,” he wrote.