The Critical 'I'

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Friday, July 23, 2004

SLATE IN PLAY
It's amusing how much Microsoft ventures into new business areas that are unrelated to their core software business, only to pull out later for little tangible gain. The latest example of this exercise: It's in talks to sell its online-only magazine Slate, 8 years after launching it.

I constantly make a mental note to visit Slate more often; for some reason, that never sticks. It's a quality publication, but for some reason, I read it only occasionally.

MS is being reasonable enough with what a buyer will do with Slate:
[Microsoft division head Steve] Moore said Microsoft has been approached before about a possible sale of Slate, but this is the first time it is taking the offers seriously. He said Microsoft is especially interested in a deal that might allow it to create a partnership with another media company, which could potentially help increase advertising revenue on the MSN site.

Microsoft is most interested in a deal that would allow Slate to continue to be found through the MSN network of Web sites, Moore said. But he said it wouldn't be opposed to a deal that also put Slate content elsewhere, either on the Web or in print.
Naturally, no one would want to buy it if they couldn't distribute the magazine's content as far and wide as they wished. I often thought webzines like Slate and Salon would greatly benefit from launching a print version. Maybe new ownership of Slate, possibly by an established magazine publisher, would bring that experiment to life.