Personalized Content App Zite Acquired by CNN
CEO Mark Johnson will still run day-to-day operations.
Zite, the free personalized news app for the iPad, has been sold to CNN. The sale is reportedly valued between $20 and $25 million, according to All Things D.
In a Zite news statement, the company says it will remain as a “separate, stand-alone business” in CNN’s digital portfolio. This translates to CEO Mark Johnson continuing to run the company from its San Francisco offices, as well as founder Ali Davar staying as executive director and Mike Klass maintaining his responsibilities as CTO.
Johnson says there are several reasons Zite was acquired by CNN, telling FOLIO:, "CNN is a tech company with a search background focused on innovating around content/media – [and] is an ideal media partner to incubate Zite’s next-generation discovery ideas."
Toronto-based Zite has made headlines over the past months for its use of publishers’ content without their consent; in late March, several publishers, including Washington Post, TIME and Associated Press, came forward with a cease-and-desist letter. Among the allegations were copyright infringement and misuse of intellectual property. At the time, there were no official partnerships with publishers in place at Zite.
In response to the allegations from publishers, Davar told FOLIO:, “We don’t look at this as an adversarial situation. If the formal cease-and-desist we received from the big publishing companies yesterday was a one-line email from the world’s smallest blogger, we would treat it exactly the same: we would switch the content from reading mode to web view mode. That’s it. This is not our legal position, it’s just our policy. Zite is eager to work with publishers in a way that benefits everyone – most importantly end users.”