Loss-making Wired may yet be for sale

The owners of Wired Ventures are making the rounds in an effort to drum up an investment or buyer in the publishing industry.

In December, ZDNN broke the news that the company may put parts of its operation on the block.

At the time, Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto angrily denied the story in an interview with News.com, saying, "Wired Digital is not for sale. Wired Magazine is not for sale. Wired Ventures is not for sale."

Then earlier this month, during a celebration of the magazine's fifth anniversary, Rossetto again disavowed any possible sale of Wired Ventures properties in an interview with ZDNN.

But on Friday, a Wall Street Journal article quoted Wired COO Jeff Simon as saying a sale has not been ruled out, but that it's not the most likely option.

Rossetto was not available for comment. But spokeswoman Shelly Tatum confirmed that the company has hired investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co. to advise it, and that selling all or part of the company remains one possibility among several.

"We're working with Lazard Freres, exploring the maximum financial opportunities available to us," Tatum said. "They're helping us structure strategic financial relationships, but we haven't given them any mandate."

The company failed twice to make a public stock offering in 1996.

Wired, which lost more than $38 million in the last two fiscal years, has fired more than 100 people since the end of 1996. According to documents filed in connection with an aborted attempt to go public, Wired Ventures' overall losses for the first nine months of 1996 came to $42.8 million.

Wired Magazine by itself had by then become profitable, and continues to operate in the black.

Ad revenue is running at between $1.5 and $3 million per (monthly) issue, and circulation continues to rise, gaining 20 percent in 1997.

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