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Tuesday, January 15, 2013


#comment-form stressed that Newsvine would continue to run as an independent site.
“We want to understand [Newsvine’s technology and processes], but we don’t have any agenda,” Tillinghast said. “Where companies get into trouble is when they try to impose big-company standards in small companies.”
Sreenivasan said it made sense that msnbc.com would want to “look at their technologies and ideas” without involving itself in Newsvine’s day-to-day operations.
“We have seen big companies buy smaller products and smaller companies and then keep them at an arm’s length,” he said. “You are seeing that the big companies are seeing that they can’t do on their own what the smaller, more nimble companies can do.”
Msnbc.com will integrate Newsvine mainly at the story level, Tillinghast said, promoting Newsvine links “on stories that might stimulate a lot of community activity,” such as political articles.
Likewise, he said, while msnbc.com would probably “take a look at” Newsvine’s use of Google as part of its search function, it was not likely to force a switch to Microsoft’s Live Search. “Consistent with their independence ... we’re not going to impose orthodoxy,” he said.
Newsvine, meanwhile, hopes to get msnbc.com’s original reporting on its site “as quickly as possible,” Davidson said.
“It’s interesting to think what sorts of things you can do when you have this really healthy news ecosystem growing,” he said. “It doesn’t just have to stay there.”
‘Hacking’ incident explained
While Newsvine is well-known in online publishing and news circles, Davidson, its chief executive and co-founder, is perhaps best known among the general public for an incident in March, when he explained how he had carried out what he called “the immaculate hack” of the presidential campaign Web site of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Davidson added a box to McCain’s page “announcing” that the senator had “reversed my position and come out in full support of gay marriage ... particularly marriage between passionate females.”
Davidson said the prank — which he said did not involve actually breaking into McCain’s site or doing anything illegal — was in response to the McCain campaign’s appropriation of his unique MySpace.com page design without permission or credit.
When Davidson changed a piece of code on his own MySpace page, the McCain site sucked it in and “a new John McCain was born... ... and The Straight-Talk Express isn’t just for straight people anymore,” he wrote on his blog.
Tillinghast declined to say whether the prank would have been allowed under msnbc.com’s ethics policy, but he said, “We have an overall sense of ethics that we want people to play by.”
Tillinghast said Davidson had explained the incident, noting that McCain’s site now lists Davidson as a MySpace “buddy.”
“That told me that everybody’s OK with how that ended up,” he said.
First acquisition for msnbc.com
For msnbc.com, meanwhile, the deal represents a turning point.
Although it is backed by two of the largest corporations in the world, Microsoft and General Electric (which owns NBC Universal), msnbc.com has pursued a conservative financial strategy with a goal of turning a profit as soon as practical. That point was reached in the quarter that ended June 30, 2004, eight years after its founding.
The site has a smaller staff than many of its rivals, such as CNN.com, and when the tech bubble burst in early 2000, it shelved ambitious plans to go public and acquire complementary properties.
Eight years after that retrenchment, the purchase of Newsvine highlights the “maturation” of msnbc.com “from a start-up-type company to one where we can do acquisitions of our own,” said Tillinghast, who would not rule out further acquisitions.
“We’re always looking at opportunities,” he said. “If they make sense, then we’ll do them.”
© 2012 msnbc.com Reprints

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