Entrepreneur Media, the Irvine, Calif.-based media company which focuses on small-business owners, is up for sale, we have learned, and the first round of bids are over. The company hope it will get around or above $200 million, our sources say. Though we don't know who the bidders in the second round are, it could be some of the usual suspects like Time, Inc. (for its Fortune Money Group), *Yahoo* (for its Finance section), R H Donnelly (which recently bought Business.com), *Dun & Bradstreet* (which bought similarly focused AllBusiness) and perhaps from PE players as well. According to some sources we've spoken to, the valuation hopes are "high", compared to the numbers on their books.
The company was founded as a newsletter in 1973 and launched as Entrepreneur magazine in 1977. It also has a big online presence and operates book publishing unit Entrepreneur Press. Entrepreneur.com was launched in 1996, and has been popular and very profitable, according to our sourcesthat's a big part of the appeal to potential buyers.
But the company and its website have seen their fair share of controversies, including allegations of buying traffic for its website using pop-unders. Also, the parent company has been in the middle of some lawsuits and allegations about trying to appropriate the word "Entrepreneur", and some lawsuits have followed, including one earlier this month. A lawsuit was filed alleging that it defrauded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office while wrangling for control of the name "Entrepreneur Expo." Some earlier controversies are here and here.
The company's official comment, from Neil Perlman, President of Entrepreneur Media: "Since we are one of the few remaining independently owned media companies people are always trying to buy us. For years we have heard reports that we are for sale or are being sold. It has been and continues to be our policy not to comment on such reports."
By Rafat Ali