Microsoft sold its highly-regarded Slate Magazine, an online publication, to the Washington Post yesterday for somewhere between $15 million and $20 million. Slate, with over 6 million readers, is now breaking even financially, but its often-quoted editorials and articles have made it a media darling in recent years and legitimatized the Internet as a delivery vehicle for hard-hitting news and opinion.
Microsoft had been looking for a buyer for Slate since mid-2004, and the Web publication marks the last vestiges of an aborted late 1990's attempt to capitalize on the success of the Internet by getting into the content market. Back then, such Microsoft content sites as Slate and Mungo Park vied for surfers' eyeballs with catchy graphics, compelling stories, and multimedia content. Since that time, however, Microsoft has gotten back to its roots, and has left the content creation to others, with its MSN unit handling virtually all of the company's online services.
"MSN has evolved its content strategy to be more focused on the really large categories of information that people are interested in on the Web," Scott Moore, Microsoft general manager of the MSN Network Experience told the Seattle Post Intelligencer. "Slate is obviously a bit more of a niche category. We feel like there's a lot of untapped potential, revenuewise, that The Washington Post will be well-suited to take advantage of."
The Washington Post reports that it will continue offering Slate as a part of its Washington Post Newsweek Interactive group, which currently runs both the Washington Post and Newsweek Web sites. The company says it has no plans for changing the editorial content at Slate.