The Dow Jones-owned Wall Street Journal has confirmed today that it will part ways with All Things D. The media publication — and conference powerhouse — is still in talks with potential suitors but its relationship with the Journal is dead. The news was first reported by Fortune’s Dan Primack.
Negotiations have been going on for some time and sources tell us that this is largely due to the fact that Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the founders and standard-holders of the ATD brand, have been looking for funding to expand the business, rather than simply selling out to a larger media publication. One of the potential acquirers, we’re hearing, was AOL, which owns TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog and other blog properties including Patch.
“We plan to embark on a major global expansion of our technology coverage, which will include adding 20 reviewers, bloggers, visual journalists, editors, and reporters covering digital,” said Gerard Baker, Editor in Chief of Dow Jones and Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal. “As part of this global push, we will also be expanding our conference franchise to include an international technology conference and building a new digital home for our first-class technology news and product reviews on The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. ”
At this point the ATD brand remains with the Wall Street Journal, which would likely continue to use it in some fashion. The fate of the conferences, from what we know, is still up in the air. Whether a deal is cut to have them continue to run the conferences — or to buy them out — while parting ways on other matters, is yet to be determined. It seems unlikely that Dow Jones will want to let the lucrative events, run by Mossberg and Swisher, out of their grasp, and it’s difficult to see how that relationship would work out. It seems doubtful that they would shutter them entirely, however, as they’ve become marquee events.
The Wall Street Journal says that part of its deal will be for a new conference that will focus on international markets.
As far as the team goes, they are contracted with a corporation owned by Swisher and Mossberg, so they will stick together wherever the team ends up. This will be a deal for the whole kit and kaboodle, even Mike Isaac.
Primack reports that ATD won’t share any content and ‘certain’ advertising functions with the Journal, but that Mossberg will also leave his column. The timeline for the shuttering, as we’ve been hearing for some time, is end-of-year. Potential funding sources that that are being discussed for Mossberg and Swisher’s new effort are Reuters, NBCUniversal, Bloomberg, Condé Nast, Cox and The Washington Post.
The iconic red chairs that grace the stage at D events will remain with Mossberg and Swisher.
The Wall Street Journal’s statement in full:
For years, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal has enjoyed working with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to bring the best of tech coverage to readers around the world under the All Things Digital brand, however, after discussions, both parties have decided not to renew the agreement when the contract expires at the end of this year.
Technology is the central driver of economic growth and the Journal is committed to being the indispensable global source of news and information in this critical area. We plan to embark on a major global expansion of our technology coverage, which will include adding 20 reviewers, bloggers, visual journalists, editors, and reporters covering digital.
As part of this global push, we will also be expanding our conference franchise to include an international technology conference and building a new digital home for our first-class technology news and product reviews on The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. This new initiative will be an integral part of The Wall Street Journal and will be rooted in the Journal’s reputation for excellent, fair, objective, reliable and stimulating journalism. As part of the mutual separation, Walt Mossberg will be leaving the Journal at the end of this year. I want to offer heartfelt thanks for more than twenty years of Personal Technology columns as well as his very fine reporting on national and international affairs in the years before he turned his attention to technology coverage.”