Kohler Sells To News, 'Remains' Independent
Big news in our little space this week with the sale of AIBM, owner of Eureka Report and Business Spectator to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for a reported $30 million. Congrats to Kohler and the team. For the past seven years that man has worked harder than anyone I know. He writes for Eureka and Business Spectator. He’s on the ABC news every night. He hosts the Inside Business program every Sunday. And runs a business on the side. How you fit sleep in around that schedule is beyond me.
Kohler has built a significant business and, now in his sixties, has every right to cash out. Who would begrudge him that?
He’s got himself into a pickle, though, trying to defend the sale to News Corp. I would have simply said ‘they offered me the most money’ and left it at that. Instead, he has tried to argue it’s the best home for Eureka and Business Spectator:
When I started Eureka Report seven years ago it was with the aim of building an independent voice for Australian investors – to both defend and inform them.
When Robert Gottliebsen, Steve Barthomoleusz and I started Business Spectator four and a half years ago it was with a similar aim for the nation’s business people. We called our company Australian Independent Business Media.
Today AIBM is joining the News Corporation stable for the simple reason that this is the best way for us to continue our mission.
We remain passionately independent of commercial interests, but being part of a global media company will give us the support and resources to grow the business and better serve all of our customers, both readers and advertisers.
For a start, Eureka Report has never been remotely independent. Three quarters of the content comes from contributors who have their own barrow to push (Marcus Padley, Roger Montgomery, FIIG, etc etc). There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s made perfectly clear to all and sundry and customers presumably subscribe with their eyes wide open. But it’s a bit rough to call it ‘independent’.
To even suggest that you are ‘passionately independent of commercial interests’ when part of the News empire, though, simply detracts from Kohler’s considerable credibility. Today’s Rear Window in the Financial Review reproduced this extraordinary passage written by Kohler in 2005:
News Corporation is nothing but a badly performing business mostly run by untrustworthy people. It’s time those who regard Rupert Murdoch as some kind of business hero thought again. He is a disgrace.
I’m guessing those are closer to his real thoughts on the sale counterparty.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of Alan. You’ve worked extremely hard to build your business and sold it for a great price. Well done and congratulations. Just do us a favour and quit trying to dress it up as something it’s not.
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