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Only in the age of Google could news aggregation be considered a step up from news publishing. So when word came Wednesday that Salon’s CEO Richard Gingras is abandoning his post at the veteran online-news site to head the news products division of Google, it arrived without shame or snickering.
Gingras’ move will happen in early July, leaving Salon in a state of uncertainty – but then again, Salon has been in a state of uncertainty for years. Gingras has run Salon since 2009 and led a quiet effort to put the news site on the auction block. There were talks involving a sale to Newser, an aggregation site founded by Michael Wolff, but they fell through in February after AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million and Salon’s board reportedly wondered whether it should increase its asking price.
Salon started in 1995 with help from Gingras and was a pioneer in online news. Currently, the site is known for engaging political and lifestyle content. But the company has been operating at a loss for years, losing $724,000 in the last quarter of 2010.
Google publishes no news but simply aggregates it. And Gingras has a history of working with the search company and advised it in 2007 and 2008 on the future of news, so Google’s execs seemed to like his ideas enough to bring him on board.
Salon is a strange creature in that it has been an independent media publisher since its inception, whereas most of its competitors are owned by bigger companies. Slate, for example, is owned by the Washington Post Company and The Daily Beast is owned by Newsweek-parent IAC.
Do you think Salon will be able to survive without Gingras at the helm?