Microsoft buying CNET Networks for $90 Million – how would it work?

NOTE: This is not a true story. Just a possible think tank of what an acquisition would be like.

I was wondering, what if Microsoft bought CNET Networks for like $90 Million? CNET Networks is like a media company focused on the web. They own CNET, ZDNET,,, and many other web properties. Especially in famous domain names.

They would make a great source of content for MSN‘s content networks. A partnership between content sites are usually so-so.Exactly why Microsoft would really want to acquire, rather than partner with CNET Networks.   

Many of CNET’s site could easily be integrated into MSN’s other content sites, with a name change.

Here are some examples:

Then there are sites that might make a so-so list. Like UrbanBaby, Chow Hound, and Chow could like go into MSN Lifestyle or City Guides. MySimon would go into MSN Shopping (if Microsoft doesn’t kill MSN Shopping first)

Then there are sites that wouldn’t at all fit into MSN or Windows Live, or they just suck.

ZDNet and TechRepublic are sites for IT-like people. Of where "technology meets business". Microsoft owning a tech forum wouldn’t be a good indicator at all for that site. It would die from users not wanting Microsoft owning a tech forum site. This is an example of how it doesn’t fit in.

Sites that suck would be Consumating and Webshots. There’s already way too many social network sites, so Consumerating is already dead. Webshots is a photo-sharing site, but they have to dream on to beat Flickr.

One of the main things is that CNET really does have some good content sites. Like the top 6 that could easily be integrated into MSN, have great content. If MSN had the same type of content as them, then it would really have something. has a lot of great tech info. and stuff. I could see Microsoft doing a redesign, and integrating that into their MSN Tech site. Where MSN Tech will finally be all about tech and gadgets and stuff. With proper specs, reviews, pictures, and videos. All with a nice look. is all about the music. They give an offering of free music, and have had a couple of exclusive interviews. They also offer reviews of music players, forums, categories of music, and tons of other music offerings. MSN Music could use some of their content, specifically music videos and interviews. is all about TV. They have tons of TV series listed on there. From reviews, videos, episode guides, ratings, and tons of stuff. It’s like the ultimate place to get TV info. MSN TV also offer a very broad list of TV series, but does not give full episode reviews, user reviews, ratings or anything where users can put input on TV episodes. is a top dog, and it would help MSN TV a whole lot on the content side. is all about game reviews. They offer reviews for all game consoles, portable gaming machines, and even the PC. MSN Games currently offers a selection of casual games – no reviews, video gaming or anything. Just casual games. MSN Games could start offering the same kind of content as for a real MSN Games.

GameFAQ‘s is kinda similar to GameSpot, but they’re more into help getting through the game. Like cheat codes, and walkthroughs. It’s not as good as GameBoomers, but it does the job. This should also be bundled along with GameSpot into MSN Games.

FilmSpot is a movie site. It’s not really that good of a site. It pretty much offers as much as MSN Movies, only with an awful look. Not real much from this site. IMDb is a much better site.

BNET is about business management stuff. It seems to offer real quality articles about business topics. It would go great in MSN Money.

As for the other sites, most of them would/should be independent. Especially ZDNet and TechRepublic.

Microsoft would also have to ensure that they won’t throw bias or any super controll on the integration and their own sites. Like if I see bad reviews of the iPod, and Zune ads plastered all over a site, that would be disappointing. Microsoft has to ensure that they won’t reach their arms into the site, and try to put pro-Microsoft stuff onto the place. Or else, nobody, even me, would want to go near Microsoft for ruining great sites and putting FUD into them. Anti-Apple and Anti-Linux, or Anti-Google would really kill Microsoft if it hits those sites.

Microsoft can’t do any bias like that on their site.

They also have to make others understand, and ensure that Microsoft will not be running the content in their favor.

Content is a very tricky thing. Sometimes it may sound bias, or sometimes it may not. If Microsoft fails to do it right, they’ll look like fools. If they can prove that they are not going to be FUD throwers, then they’ll be ok.

Buying CNET Networks, and integrating their content into MSN sections would be a good deal – if done correctly.


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