Pretty soon, Classified Ventures may be little more than Cars.com.
The company announced today (Tuesday) that it would “explore strategic alternatives” for Apartments.com, a euphemism for “we’re putting it up for sale.” The news release included the usual disclaimers that something might happen, or nothing might happen, or … well, the usual.
The company dumped its HomeGain business in February this year to Reply.com. It also spun off HomeFinder.com, its other real estate asset, a while back. (HomeFinder is a cross between a traditional real estate site like Realtor.com or Zillow.com and a back-end engine for real estate sites at some newspapers.) So if it sells or otherwise divests Apartments.com, Classified Ventures might be able to rename itself just “Cars.com” because nothing else will be left.
Apartments.com was launched in January 1997 as ApartmentsPlus by a Chicago area apartment locator service, and it was acquired in December of that year by Classified Ventures. It was relaunched as Apartments.com in March 1998.
Classified Ventures, which is owned by A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co., Tribune Co and The Washington Post Co., must be in a bit of flux right now.
Tribune’s being split up but the newspaper company — if it’s ever formed, and the newspapers aren’t just sold off — won’t own the online assets. The Washington Post Co. is being divided between The Washington Post newspaper, to be owned by Amazon owner-billionaire Jeff Bezos, and its other assets, including the company’s stake in Classified Ventures. Gannett has announced plans to buy a bunch of television stations (the “other” Belo company, the one that was split off from the A.H. Belo newspapers) to try to increase revenue through broadcast sales. Belo and McClatchy seem stable, but are also suffering through the woes of newspaperdom everywhere in the U.S.
Word was a few months ago that Apartments.com is still growing nicely, at double digits, but with the real estate climate changing and lots of companies (like Zillow, Trulia and other Internet marketplaces) looking for assets, the Classified Ventures board may have decided to cash out while the cashing is good.
“Over the next few months, it is expected that the CV board of directors and management team will evaluate a variety of strategic options for the company’s Apartments.com business which includes category-leading sites such as Apartments.com, RentalHomesPlus.com, and ApartmentHomeLiving.com,” the news release said. “This process will not impact CV’s Cars.com business.”
Moelis & Co. will serve as strategic advisor to Classified Ventures and its board.
Dick Burke, SVP and GM of Apartments.com, is a bean-counter and attorney who represented the company way back in 1997 in its acquisition of ApartmentsPlus parent company Visual Properties. He’s been with Classified Ventures just shy of 15 years and previously served as SVP of administration and corporate development for CV.
Dan Jauernig, president and CEO at Classified Ventures, wasn’t immediately available for comment.
This article was originally published by the AIM Group
Peter M. Zollman brings more than 35 years of media experience to his role as founding principal of the AIM Group / Classified Intelligence Report. He has worked with a wide range of media companies, dot-coms, technology providers and start-ups to develop and expand successful interactive-media services. He is based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., near Orlando.