SXSW Rumor: CNN To Acquire Mashable

Posted by · March 12, 2012 11:26 am

English: Mashable.com logo as of late 2008When rumors in the tech world break, typically they’re from a group of sources that readers know full well to take with a grain of salt while reading. Whether it’s chatter about the next line of Amazon tablets or the latest unconfirmed feature on the upcoming iPhone, such rumors are hardly reliable. But on Monday morning, things were different.

When Reuters blogger Felix Salmon posted a video (see below) from this week’s South by Southwest conference saying that a “little bird” told him CNN was looking to buy social media new site Mashable, people actually stopped and listened.

Unlike other bloggers who often use rumors—believable or not—to attract readership, a Reuters blogger like Salmon doesn’t typically stick his neck out there unless he thinks he’s got a valid lead. According to Salmon, who says the deal is expected to be announced on Tuesday, CNN is expected to pay upwards of $200 million for the popular social media new site. If the deal goes through, it is expected to provide a significant boost the CNN website, which is already one of the top sites—when it comes to popularity—in the United States.

Furthermore, notes NYT blogger Brian Stelter, for CNN to acquire Mashable would “make a statement about CNN’s interest in startups and social media.”

Despite the clear benefits Mashable would provide to the already-popular news network, though, CNN went on record Monday morning to dispel the rumor by saying that no such announcement was planned for Tuesday. However, no comment was made regarding the status of any ongoing talks between the two companies.

Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore also took the time Monday morning to deny the rumor, at least in part. In an email to his staff, Cashmore said the “rumor going around on Twitter that Mashable will be acquired this week [emphasis added]” is untrue. That is, the immediacy of such a deal, not the deal itself, was to be disregarded, leaving open for speculation the very real possibility that Mashable and CNN are planning a deal for a later time.

“Mashable’s one of the hottest brands here at SXSW and there’s bound to be rumors coming out of the festival,” the Mashable CEO continued. “We’ve had a great presence here, and I look forward to updating you guys when we get back.”

Meanwhile, Cashmore’s denial remains largely suspect after Mashable executive editor Adam Ostrow’s decision to “Like” Salmon’s story on Facebook Monday morning.