Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 11/1/2002Talking of debt, there's sad news from another land. The company that once owned my soul, Ziff Davis, has been through some troubled times since ZDNet -- current holder of said item -- was sold off to CNET.

Friday 11/1/2002

Talking of debt, there's sad news from another land. The company that once owned my soul, Ziff Davis, has been through some troubled times since ZDNet -- current holder of said item -- was sold off to CNET. Now Ziff Davis Media (as it's now known) has no European presence, and its American remnant is facing a posse of some 50 banks who've lent it money and would like some of it back, please.

According to the New York Post, which has been following the recent saga of Ziff Davis, the company must come up with $15m on January 15th to pay interest on $250m in junk bonds, and right at the moment it doesn't quite have the cash. The parent company has the cash but is looking nervously at throwing more dosh down that particular hole, especially since it's locked in legal conflict with the erstwhile chief executive of Ziff Davis, Jim Dunning, who was made redundant in August. Dunning promptly sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in severance pay, personal insult cash and goodness knows what else: the company promptly countersued over a range of alleged sins, including building a veranda with company money in order to have somewhere to smoke cigars.

Which is mildly entertaining, but doesn't alter the fact that a succession of very bad decisions took Ziff Davis from being one of the most successful and powerful publishers in the business ten years ago to a rump of a company struggling to hold it together right now -- and all this through the unparalleled boom years of technology, our specialist subject. It has been heartbreaking watching it all from the inside, and not really much better now I'm elsewhere.

It's certainly deserving of a book. If anyone's writing one, do let me know.

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