Seven years after buying About.com for $410 million (£260 million), the New York Times is reportedly putting together a deal to unload the struggling advice site to Answers.com for a nearly 35 per cent discount on the original acquisition price.
The newspaper has confirmed that it "is engaged in discussions regarding the potential sale of its About Group" but did not name any potential buyers and said in a statement that "[n]o definitive agreement has been reached."
All Things D has reported that Answers.com has signed a letter of intent to take About.com off the Times' hands for $270 million (£172 million). Citing unnamed sources, the website said Answers.com's financiers for the rumoured deal are public equity firms Summit Partners and TA Associates.
About.com, originally dubbed the Mining company, was founded by Scott Kurnit, Bill Day, and other investors in 1996 and launched in 1997. The Times acquired the company and its stable of freelancing expert "guides" in May 2005. Other bidders reportedly included Google, Yahoo, AskJeeves, and AOL.
This actually isn't the first time the newspaper has been tipped as seeking to sell off About.com. Back in 2008, the Times was also rumoured to be shopping the site around, though at the time About.com was making money and attracting nearly 450 million visitors annually, about four-fifths of whom were arriving from search engines like Google.
That's no longer the case. Revenue started declining in late 2010, with a drop in traffic numbers attributed to changes in Google's search algorithm that highlighted About.com's reliance on the search giant.
Several bad quarters in a row led to the departure of About Group CEO Cella Irvine in May 2011. Things apparently still haven't picked back up for the business unit and the Times took a $195 million (£124 million) goodwill write-down for its About Group last month.