Thanks to announcement from Geeknet, there's speculation that the company could be selling some incredibly notable web properties in an effort to "maximize shareholder value," meaning stalwart sites like SourceForge, Slashdot, and Freecode may soon be for sale. While we are still in the speculation stage, the idea of Slashdot and SourceForge changing owners, and the unknown alterations that usually come when ownership shifts, is a little surprising.
The news of these potential sales was made public via a Geeknet press release, which spells out the motivations behind the idea. Naturally, it's all about money:
Ken Langone, Chairman and CEO of Geeknet, stated, "After much discussion, our management team and Board of Directors have decided to begin a formal review of our media business to realize the full potential of these valuable assets and maximize shareholder value. With more than 46 million total unique visitors last month, our media properties have a large community of engaged users and we are committed to creating the best online experience for them."
While Geeknet's properties may have been reduced to more of a niche site, with their high popularity days seemingly behind them, as the statement shows, they still draw respectable amounts of traffic. Furthermore, Slashdot still maintains a consistent amount of input from users that have stayed the course the with news aggregate/forum-based commenting system.
When you consider Digg's fate after Kevin Rose exited with money in his pocket, the idea of these properties changing hands is almost unfortunate.
That's not to say the potential new owners will gut these services by favoring content from big-name publications instead of relying on user submissions, but then again, considering the aftermath of Digg, it's understandable where there would be apprehension from the loyal users. Furthermore, when you consider these properties are still viable, traffic-wise (46 million uniques in April), such a change in ownership could cause massive defections, perhaps to the waiting arms of Reddit.
As pointed out by TheNextWeb, despite these good traffic numbers, Geeknet lost money:
Earlier this month, the company announced financial results for the first quarter of 2012. During the quarter, Geeknet booked revenues of $22.3 million, compared to $19.9 million in Q1, 2011. However, the company posted a net loss of $2.1 million.
With that in mind, does it make sense for Geeknet to cut their loses and make whatever money they can from these still-popular web properties? If so, how does the idea of Slashdot, SourceForge, and Freecode being under new ownership strike you?