Tuesday, June 1, 2010

San Diego News Network apparently out of business.

According to reports in the San Diego Reader and The Voice of San Diego - Neil Santuria is calling it quits and selling out.
SDNN got the engine running then ran out of gas.

"This has happened before. Neil will say one thing publicly but privately you know it is not as rosy as what he is making it out to be," says William Yelles, former managing editor of SDNN. Some think SDNN may have resembled a Potemkin Village all along; it was never what it was made out to be, and was being prettified for the public offering and/or sale of the enterprise. - said the Reader

One SDNN writer blithly commented:
"I think I will go into the lemonade business. The little girl across the street made $75 for the day selling lemonade for 3 hours on Memorial Day... a vast improvement over the big $25 per weekly column I was paid at SDNN...after 8 months of pro bono...the things you do for charity!"
William Yelles, former managing editor of the online SDNN, says that one year ago, in May of 2009, the founder, Neil Senturia, called Yelles to La Jolla and said the company was broke and would lay off everybody except Yelles and somebody on the advertising side. The next month, however, Gary Jacobs, son of the Qualcomm founder, put in some money. Yelles believes Jacobs put $500,000 in twice, and an Orange County investor put in at least $750,000. In fall of 2009, Senturia said the online operation in San Diego had exceeded expectations, and the company (the parent is named U.S. Local News Network) would expand to 40 markets. However, Yelles does not believe the company ever had a profitable month. Early this year, the company said it had raised $3.18 million from investors to be used for its expansion to the outlying markets. One source says that investors (besides Jacobs and the Orange County angel) put in $100,000 each. Senturia and his partner Barbara Bry are said to have contributed $140,000. (That is not pinned down.) U.S. Local News Network talked of an initial public offering.

I have heard from a reliable source that Senturia initially asked a million dollars for the enterprise, but at the end of talks, the price was down to zero. I reached Mike McKinnon, majority owner of the company controlling KUSI. "We've had discussions with him [Senturia]," says McKinnon. "He's a nice fellow, working hard, but we are not ready to make a move in that direction." Continues McKinnon, "We will probably be in that business within a year," but, from what he says, I don't think he would enter by buying SDNN. I also talked with Nancy Sullivan, vice president of communications of the Los Angeles Times. "We have undertaken a couple of ventures" with the parent of SDNN (particularly the La Jolla/Del Mar paper), she says, but she tells me I will have to get information from the San Diego company, which did not respond to repeated calls and emails over the weekend. I do not see how it would be possible to continue putting out that paper without the creators of content, who have been severed.

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