Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Emap jumps in ... again

Will it be second time lucky in the digital publishing world for Emap?

The multi-platform media company splurged suddenly and massively – or at least promised to – at the tail end of the first dotcom boom before withdrawing just as rapidly with charred fingers.

But now there is a New Plan which will involve "incubators", "reverse publishing" and "video content".

Dress it up how you will, that still sounds a bit old fashioned, a bit top down and not very Web 2.0. One reason could be that Emap has not yet given up chasing the money which, being a publicly quoted company that is currently flopping around like a wounded fish in a world full of investment capital sharks, it can't do. Not for CEO Tom Moloney the Jeff Jarvis creed of casting your fate to the readership communities; not for Dharmash Mistry the space-age notion of allowing the people who consume your product to be much more involved in the production of it.

I am sure there will be some solid commercial payback for Emap, and its market leading titles are not going to disappear any time soon, but when titles slide they slide suddenly (see FHM) and steeply.

McKinsey, the major league business consultants who have been drafted in to help build up profits again, do not seem like the kind of outfit to advocate wholesale change, and I don't think they will be very helpful in this situation.

New plan or not, Emap is at risk of getting left behind.


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