Niche Doesn’t Mean Small


According to The Wall Street Journal, Liberty Media is paying more than $100 million to buy the stake of from the site’s founding family and a private-equity firm.

Once known primarily as an investor in media companies, Liberty has taken steps in recent years to become more of an operator of its own businesses. In the past couple of years it has assembled a sizable portfolio of Internet ventures to complement its QVC home-shopping network, whose growth has slowed as retail sales shift to the Web. Last year, Liberty purchased Buyseasons Inc., which operates an online costume site, and a controlling stake in, an outdoor and action-sports retailer. In 2006 Liberty paid nearly $500 million to buy Internet flower and food seller Provide Commerce Inc.

Liberty Chief Executive Gregory Maffei said the company is committed to acquiring more high-growth Internet businesses targeted at narrow customer segments, viewing them as highly attractive as audiences fragment online. “We would do as many such deals as we could get our hands on,” he said, stressing that the number of independent companies that meet those criteria is relatively small.

These are big numbers dished out by a media company for what is essentially a retail business, but online. We live in interesting times.

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