This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
You're reading it here first ... paidContent has learned that Computer Shopper will cease print publication with its April issue, due off the press next week, and become online only at ComputerShopper.com. The announcement was made internally tonight; some jobs will be affected but owner SX2 Media Labs LLC isn't disclosing numbers. ComputerShopper.com GM Josh London said the company has been profitable "as a whole" but declined to say whether the print version was profitable on its own. He also said the company is interested in acquisitions.
Unlike Ziff Davis, which canceled the print edition of PC Magazine late last year but continues to sell a digital edition, Computer Shopper readers will have full access to content online without charge. The site relies on multiple revenue streams, including display advertising, cost-per-click, and cost-per-acquisition. Current subscribers will be offered a replacement magazine through the end of their subscription, London said.
In the staff e-mail (published in full after the jump), CEO David Sills said: "Unlike other media companies you may be hearing about in the news, we carry no meaningful debt, are closely held, and are well capitalized. We have multiple revenue streams and a strong base of leading advertisers that count on ComputerShopper.com as an integral part of their media plans."
This month marks the third anniversary of the magazine's acquisition from CNET Networks, with related assets, in February 2006 by the privately held company formed by David Sills and Barry Schwimmer. But the monthly magazine is roughly as old as personal computing. It was founded in 1980 and at times felt heavier than multiple phonebooks, providing hours of reading for the computer geeks among us. (Yes, we had a subscription for years.) As the computer industry consolidated and more readers moved online, the magazine shrunk in pages and in actual sizeand some of us wondered if it could last at all. But London said SX2 Media Labs knew when it acquired the magazine that it would relaunch the site and that eventually it all would go online: "Not surprisingly, the shift of our customer base followed everyone else's. They prefer to get it online." Why now? "We had our best quarter ever in the fourth quarter of 2008, which made the decision clear."
More to come.
Memo to staff from CEO David Sills
We purchased Computer Shopper from CNET in Feb 2006 with the goal of launching a revitalized ComputerShopper.com and ultimately transitioning fully to digital media. Today, we are able to realize that promise, through all of your hard work, ComputerShopper.com is a vibrant destination for passionate technology enthusiasts. Effective with the April 2009 issue, SX2 Media Labs will cease publishing Computer Shopper magazine and focus all of our efforts on our largest and fastest growing area - ComputerShopper.com.
We did not make this decision lightly. Computer Shopper has a 30-year history as the most comprehensive guide to technology. Over the years, we evolved into a respected, world-class destination for trusted buying advice and reviews. Our readers demand expert, labs-based reviews of the latest technology products, delivered in a timely fashion, free of bias. This remains our editorial mission, and with our pure-digital focus, we'll be able to deliver on it better than ever. And with ComputerShopper.com's position of also being a prominent comparison-shopping engine for technology products, we will continue to deliver toour readers a unique mix of buying advice and shopping access.
We are in a very fortunate position. We have excellent editorial content, and an exceptionally strong brand - one that readers flock to amid a cacophony of sites that simply rewrite press releases. We have aggressive growth plans, particularly in editorial. We have recently launched a host of new editorial coverage, including an extensive netbook section, buying-guide and review videos, new blogs, newsletters, and more. We have also implemented a new content management system that allows us to minimize the time between initial receipt of products and the posting of reviews. This has enabled us to be the first to the Net with many new product reviews.
Unlike other media companies you may be hearing about in the news, we carry no meaningful debt, are closely held, and are well capitalized. We have multiple revenue streams and a strong base of leading advertisers that count on ComputerShopper.com as an integral part of their media plans.
Rest assured: In no way will our commitment to expert, labs-based reviews of the latest tech products waver. Indeed, we're excited that our new all-digital focus will enable us to bring our trusted buying advice to a wider audience than ever, with a whole new level of timeliness and depth.
Our advertising clients have told us countless times how we outperform much larger sites. Our ability to maximize campaign performance combined with the insatiable activity of our audience makes this possible. And in tough times smart marketers move to measurable media with an engaged audience that can demonstrate a return on their advertising spend.
There are exciting times ahead for SX2 Media Labs and ComputerShopper.com. There are enormous benefits to our digital platform. Our ongoing 2 way conversations with our readers enable us to gain deep knowledge of what content is most relevant to them. We have listened to our users, our readers, and our advertisers and seen their progression to ComputerShopper.com. We are excited to be able to take this journey with them. I want to thank you all for your hard work and dedication, and I look forward to growing the business with you in the future.
By Staci D. Kramer