In 2011, CNN acquired Zite, which was then one of many news reader apps built for the iPad. Since then, many of those apps have gone away, and now Zite is going away as well: Flipboard, the most popular of the news readers, is buying the company from CNN.
CNN reports that the deal is “valued at $60 million,” but the two companies wouldn’t discuss financials during a press call. CNN paid around $20 million for Zite three years ago. I would be very surprised if Flipboard, which has raised $160 million to date, spent $60 million in cash for Zite. (Update: You can arch your other eyebrow at that $60 million figure. Here’s a quote, passed along via Flipboard PR, attributed to CNN PR: “While we’re not sharing the terms of the deal, the reported valuation is inaccurate.”)
Zite itself will shut down, but CNN says most of its 20 employees will go to work for Flipboard (Zite CEO Mark Johnson will not be joining them.) Flipboard will produce custom “magazines” for CNN, and the two companies will work to sell advertising together.
At one point many people were convinced that Flipboard-style apps, which let readers assemble their own publications by culling links and articles from around the Web, would thrive on the iPad and other tablets. But many efforts, including ones from AOL, Yahoo and Google, have fizzled.
Investors are still interested in Flipboard itself, though. Last year, the company raised funding that valued it at $800 million.
And the notion of recombining traditional publications into a choose-your-own digital version still holds theoretical appeal to other folks. Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has been proposing something along those lines to publishers this year.