Apparently Google was doing some window-shopping recently but decided to pass on one item for sale; a stake in the ‘Grand Daddy of Them All’, the New York Times. The Business Insider reports that Harbinger Capital has put its 19% stake in the newspaper on sale. It was just last year that the investor acquired the stake but is now looking for a buyer to remove the portfolio buster from their stable of holdings. Interested parties have included David Geffen but his price wasn’t right apparently.
The idea of buying the New York Times was apparently floated by one of the co-founders of Google in an attempt to stir interest.
Scott Galloway, a Web entrepreneur and New York University Business School professor who is one of two Harbinger appointees on the Times board, made an overture to Google co-founder Larry Page about Google buying the Times Co.
Even though Google CEO Eric Schmidt has publicly lamented the state of the newspaper industry and dismissed the notion of Google investing in it, people involved said the company looked seriously at the opportunity before deciding to pass.
Google has been sparring with the publishing industry recently. If CEO Schmidt talked negatively of the industry but there were still interested parties within Google is there a little crack in the facade of the united front?
So if they looked seriously at the opportunity then said “Thanks but no thanks” what might the pros and cons been? What kind of reaction would other publishers had if Google would have appeared to be in the position to move the NYT and its properties (Boston Globe anyone?) to the head of class when a search for a news item occurred? Is Google looking to maybe try to play nice with the traditional media world that it is currently helping to drive into the grave? Might there be other potential targets out there? So many questions and absolutely no answers.