Selling the crown jewels

I’ve written on occasion about RDA Holdings, the parent for Reader’s Digest. Mary Berner, the CEO who led the company into and out of bankruptcy, left earlier this week.

At Adweek, itself a substrate for some recent consolidation, there is speculation that Berner’s exit signals a move to sell RDA Holdings’ more promising assets. Chief among these is the foodie site,, which has been a bright light even as the parent struggled.

Growing revenues starts with investment, something that Berner appeared to understand. Competition can be found around most corners; one need only look at The Daily Meal to see a hard-charging alternative.

RDA Holdings recently reorganized its board in a way that strengthened the representation of financial services companies. That’s predictable, really: control of the firm passed to bankers in 2009, when they traded equity for the money loaned to support the 2006 acquisition of RDA Holdings.

Growing publishing revenues requires sustained investments. If the reconstituted board elects to sell RDA Holdings’ crown jewels, the result will be neither surprising nor pleasant to watch. The wide swath of other media companies that have emerged from bankruptcy in the last two years might take this lesson to heart.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *