WEBMD being purchased for billions of dollars

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Written by DML
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I’m often asked how I got involved in the media business.  The short answer goes like this…

Having witnessed 9/11 first hand, I decided to do more with my life than be a suit and tie CEO.  I said goodbye to the fancy office on the 32nd floor of one of the most prestigious Manhattan skyscrapers , and said hello to a barely put together wooden seat at the NY Film Academy two miles down the street.

After 5 weeks at the academy, I had learned enough about digital media to launch a production business.  I opened a small shop in lower Manhattan.

My hunch at the time was that health information on the web would be huge.  Keep in mind, this is fifteen years ago. YouTube was just a baby and playing videos on a cell phone was unheard of unless you wanted to wait 30-minutes for a 30-second video to load.

My company started making short videos about health issues people faced and how they ultimately dealt with the issue.  I covered every problem there is: Heart attacks, losing weight, colonoscopies, brain cancer, skin cancer, etc.

WebMD loved the concept and we were in discussions about how we could do business together.  The talks lasted for nearly six months.  The possibility of being purchased by the company surfaced once or twice, but in the end I decided to do a deal with ABC NEWS instead because I was more interested in the videos appearing on TV.

I worked with ABC News for about a year.  When the contract was up my time with ABC News was complete.  They did a really poor job promoting our content.  I never went back to WedMD, my contact there had moved on.  Bad move on my part?

Today, it was announced that the online health publisher WebMD Health has agreed to be purchased by private equity firm KKR in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion.

The deal brings together WebMD’s websites, such as WebMD.com, Medscape.com and MedicineNet.com, and those owned by KKR unit Internet Brands Inc, including DentalPlans.com and AllAboutCounseling.com.

KKR will pay $66.50 per share, a premium of 20.5 percent to WebMD’s Friday closing price. WebMD’s shares were trading at $66 before the opening bell.

Reuters reported on Sunday that KKR was nearing a deal to buy the online health information provider.

Founded in 1996, WebMD has grown into one of the most popular health websites for consumers and medical professionals, attracting more than 70 million monthly unique visitors in 2016, according to analytics company comScore Inc.

WebMD also owns medical news and education brand Medscape, which accounted for around 60 percent of its advertising revenue in 2016.

The New York-based company said in February it would explore its options, after a slowdown in advertising paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

The deal, approved by the WebMD board, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is WebMD’s financial adviser, while Shearman & Sterling LLP is its legal adviser.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is Internet Brands’ legal adviser.

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