JANA: Here's Our Plan For CNET

Last week CNET fired 120 employees in an effort to appease JANA, the hedge fund that wants to boot the company’s board and senior executives. That didn’t do the trick. So what do JANA and its allies want CNET to do?

See for yourself: They’ve got a 38-page white paper that lays out a plan they say will boost ad revenue as much as 20% by next year.

JANA’s CNET reforms in a nutshell:

  • Stop using internal online ad serving technologies and outsource online advertising to Microsoft’s aQuantive, Google’s DoubleClick or AOL’s platform A.
  • Improve navigation on the site.
  • Build a vertical ad network.
  • Use third-party ad networks for unsold ad inventory.
  • Start using social media.
  • Upgrade the technology platform for publishing and content management.
  • Fire more people.

At the centre of JANA’s plan is seven proposed new members of the board:

Paul Gardi, former general manager, IAC
Santo Politi, general partner, Spark Capital
Jon Miller, former AOL CEO
Jaynie Studenmund, former COO of GoTo/Overture
Julius Genachowski, former chief of business operations, IAC
Brian Weinstein, digital strategist at CAA
Georgio Caputo, managing director, JANA Partners

Also buried in JANA’s text: An account of CNET’s first bid to get the group off its back. In February, CNET offered to place one of JANA’s nominees, Jon Miller, on the board, as well as a director to be named later, and a SEO consultant in exchange for a settlement. JANA rejected the offer.

JANA’s case for firing management? A laundry list of failed attempts to expand CNET’s business, including, BNET.com, WebShots.com, and MySimon.com.

Its case for firing more people? JANA estimates CNET averages $153k in revenue per employee, lower than TheStreet ($247k), TechTarget ($207k) and The Knot ($241k).

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