Red Ventures
FormerlyRed F (1999–2003)
Company typePrivate
Industry
Founded2000; 24 years ago (2000)
HeadquartersIndian Land, South Carolina, U.S.
Key people
Ric Elias (CEO)
ServicesMarketing, advertising
RevenueUS$2 billion (2021)
Divisions
Subsidiaries
Websiteredventures.com

Red Ventures is an American media company that owns and operates brands such as Lonely Planet, CNET, ZDNet, The Points Guy, Healthline, and Bankrate.[1] Red Ventures focuses on news, advice, and review websites.[2] The company's corporate headquarters is located in Indian Land, South Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina.[3]

History

Red Ventures was founded on September 29, 1999,[4] in Fort Mill, South Carolina by Ric Elias and Dan Feldstein.[5] Before its 2020 acquisitions, the company had grown into an international presence with more than 100 brands, 3,000 employees, and operations in the United Kingdom and Brazil.[6]

In 2015, the company got a $250 million investment from Silver Lake.[7] That same year, it doubled the size of its headquarters[8] and bought postal services company Imagitas from Pitney Bowes.[9]

Red Ventures acquired Bankrate Inc. for $1.24 billion in cash in a deal announced July 3, 2017.[10][11]

On September 14, 2020, Red Ventures agreed to purchase the CNET Media Group from ViacomCBS for $500 million.[12] On December 1, 2020, Red Ventures bought Lonely Planet from Tennessee-based NC2 Media.[13]

In 2021, the company had 4,500 employees and 751 million readers per month.[14][15]

Business model

In 2023 The Verge described the business model of the company as "publish[ing] content designed to rank highly in Google search for "high-intent" queries and ... monet[izing] that traffic with lucrative affiliate links.", with a particular focus on financial content such as credit cards.[16] The characterization came after the website Futurism found several articles published by Red Ventures properties, including CNET, were quietly written by artificial intelligence software,[17] with the stories containing numerous inaccuracies and instances of plagiarism.[18] Red Ventures announced layoffs at CNET a few weeks after the reports from The Verge and Futurism, which the company says were unrelated.[19][20]

Futurism additionally highlighted undisclosed AI-generated, SEO-focused content produced by Red Ventures's education division (internally RV EDU). This content promotes schools with which Red Ventures maintains affiliate agreements, such as University of Phoenix (a for-profit college owned by Apollo Global Management) and Liberty University (founded by conservative activist and Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell). Websites operated by RV EDU include BestColleges.com, TheBestSchools.org, NurseJournal.org, ComputerScience.org, and Psychology.org, "as well as numerous sites with domain names that imply they're nonprofits".[21]

In July 2023, Elias announced that AI-generated content, both editorial content and targeted advertisements, would be a major part of the company's business model moving forward.[22]

However, it is reported that following CNET publishing AI-generated stories containing errors and plagiarized content, as well as incorrect attributions to human writers, Wikimedia downgraded CNET's reliability, such that all content since the Red Ventures acquisition should not be considered the basis of a credible link.[23]

MyMove LLC and USPS Partnership

In 2015, Red Ventures acquired MyMove (formerly Imagitas),[24] in large part due to their exclusive partnership with USPS. In 2011, Imagitas formed a 10 year exclusive partnership with the USPS to facilitate the official Change of Address process, which roughly 40 million people use each year.[25] This partnership has been heavily criticized by users on the internet,[26][27] primarily due to the predatory nature of the user experience deployed on the USPS site. Users are forced to provide their data, in exchange for deals and advertisements, without the option to opt-out. Critics of the experience claim that it is intentionally done by MyMove and is misleading for consumers, who are led to believe they need to provide this information in order to change their address, or update their voter registration form.

In May 2023, Red Ventures agreed to pay the United States $2.75 million to resolve a whistleblower's allegations that they violated the False Claims Act[28] by underpaying on contracts connected to the USPS change-of-address process.[29]

Timeline

This section is in list format but may read better as prose. You can help by converting this section, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (February 2023)

References

  1. ^ Hudson, Caroline. "Red Ventures adding jobs as it integrates ViacomCBS' CNET Media Group". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Goldberg, Steve (July 2019). "Why This $2 Billion Business Swears By the 'Pencil Rule'". Inc. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Red Ventures CEO: We're going to keep growing". charlotteobserver. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  4. ^ "Red Ventures LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Elkins, Ken (December 29, 2010). "Ric Elias and Dan Feldstein, Red Ventures". bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  6. ^ Sakoui, Anousha (September 14, 2020). "ViacomCBS sells CNET Media for less than half what CBS paid in 2008". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  7. ^ De La Merced, Michael (January 7, 2015). "Silver Lake Makes Big Bet on Red Ventures, a Digital Marketing Company". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  8. ^ Portillo, Ely (November 4, 2015). "Red Ventures breaks ground on project to double size of its headquarters". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Elkins, Ken (May 28, 2015). "Red Ventures buying company with important postal contract". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  10. ^ Stratton, Ali (July 3, 2017). "Personal Finance Website Bankrate to be Acquired by Marketing Firm Red Ventures". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  11. ^ Bond, Shannon; Samson, Adam (July 3, 2020). "Bankrate website to be bought by Red Ventures for $1.24bn". Financial Times. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (September 14, 2020). "ViacomCBS to Sell CNET to Red Ventures for $500 Million". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  13. ^ Muccigrosso, Catherine (December 1, 2020). "Red Ventures gobbles up another familiar brand name. This time it's travel related". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  14. ^ Stenberg, Mark (August 4, 2022). "CNET Hires Condé Nast Chief Data Officer". adweek.com. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  15. ^ Smith, Ben (August 15, 2021). "You've Never Heard of the Biggest Digital Media Company in America". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  16. ^ Vincent, James (January 19, 2023). "Inside CNET's AI-powered SEO money machine". The Verge. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  17. ^ "CNET Is Quietly Publishing Entire Articles Generated By AI". Futurism. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  18. ^ "CNET's AI Journalist Appears to Have Committed Extensive Plagiarism". Futurism. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  19. ^ Sato, Mia (March 2, 2023). "CNET is doing big layoffs just weeks after AI-generated stories came to light". The Verge. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  20. ^ Al-Sibai, Noor; Christian, Jon. "CNET Hits Staff With Layoffs After Disastrous Pivot to AI Journalism". Futurism. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  21. ^ Christian, Jon. "Leaked Messages Show How CNET's Parent Company Really Sees AI-Generated Content". Futurism. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  22. ^ Harrison, Maggie. "CNET's Parent Company Preparing to Kickstart the AI Content Engine". Futurism. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  23. ^ https://futurism.com/wikipedia-cnet-unreliable-ai
  24. ^ "Brands - MyMove | Red Ventures". prod.redventures.com. Retrieved July 1, 2023.[dead link]
  25. ^ "Imagitas, a New England Company, Signs 10-year Contract with US Postal Service". Business Wire. January 19, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  26. ^ "MYMOVE, LLC | Better Business Bureau Profile". bbb.org. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  27. ^ "MYMOVE is rated "Bad" with 1.6 / 5 on Trustpilot". Trustpilot. June 18, 2023. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  28. ^ LLP, Pollock Cohen. "Pollock Cohen LLP: Red Ventures, LLC And MYMOVE, LLC Agree To Pay $2.75 Million To Resolve False Claims Act Allegations". prnewswire.com (Press release). Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  29. ^ Marusak, Joe. "A Red Ventures company 'cheated' postal service, will pay $2.7M to settle case, feds say". Charlotte Observer.
  30. ^ "Staying in Red brings new life". bizjournals.com. November 5, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  31. ^ Leadership: Ric Elias, Red Ventures Website, retrieved July 30, 2008.
  32. ^ "Red Ventures Acquires Lead Generation Firm Modern Consumer", Direct Magazine, June 23, 2008
  33. ^ Ventures, Red. "Red Ventures Announces Growth Capital Investment by General Atlantic". Prnewswire.com (Press release).
  34. ^ "General Atlantic Team - Anton J. Levy". General Atlantic website. Archived from the original on August 24, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  35. ^ "Red Ventures Announces Growth Capital Investment by General Atlantic". General Atlantic. 2010. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  36. ^ Wilson, Jen (April 3, 2012). "Red Ventures buys HomeInsurance.com". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  37. ^ Merced, Michael J. de la (January 7, 2015). "Silver Lake Makes Big Bet on Red Ventures, a Digital Marketing Company". DealBook. Archived from the original on November 14, 2020. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c "We Are Red Ventures". Red Ventures. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  39. ^ "Red Ventures Acquires Allconnect". Red Ventures. September 7, 2017. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  40. ^ "Red Ventures Announces Closing of Acquisition of Bankrate, Inc". Red Ventures. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  41. ^ "Red Ventures Acquires HigherEducation.com". Red Ventures. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  42. ^ "Red Ventures Acquires Healthline Media". Red Ventures. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  43. ^ Bouma, Luke (March 26, 2020). "An Important Update on the Future of Cord Cutters News". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  44. ^ Keys, Matthew (June 7, 2022). "Exclusive: Red Ventures to close Cord Cutters News". The Desk. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  45. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 14, 2020). "ViacomCBS Reaches Deal to Sell CNET for $500 Million to Marketing Firm Red Ventures". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  46. ^ a b Asimov, Eric (March 10, 2022). "Chowhound Closes After 25 Years of Food Obsession, Wisdom, and Debate". The New York Times.
  47. ^ Gach, Ethan (January 19, 2023). "Layoffs Hit GameSpot, Giant Bomb Just Months After Fandom Buys Them". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  48. ^ "Red Ventures Acquires Lonely Planet". December 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  49. ^ Burke-Kennedy, Eoin. "Lonely Planet sold to US digital marketing group for undisclosed sum". Irish Times. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  50. ^ "RV Health, A Red Ventures Business, Acquires Healthgrades.com from Mercury Healthcare | Red Ventures". Red Ventures. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  51. ^ Lagasse, Jeff (July 13, 2022). "Optum, Red Ventures partner on consumer healthcare platform". Healthcare Finance News. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  52. ^ Weprin, Alex (October 3, 2022). "TV Guide, Metacritic, GameSpot Acquired by Fandom in $55M Deal With Red Ventures". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 3, 2022.