News Corp. (NWS -1.20%) is sure talking a good game, planning to challenge LinkedIn (LNKD -0.68%) and Bloomberg L.P., the parent of Bloomberg News. Many investors, however, are skeptical that the plans from Rupert Murdoch’s (pictured) media empire will amount to much.
Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is building a challenger to LinkedIn and plans to launch a social network for professionals in coming months, according to the Times of London.
Dating website eHarmony reportedly is considering expanding into job hunting as well, further clouding the picture for News Corp., whose track record in social media includes its disastrous investment in MySpace.
As of the latest quarter, LinkedIn had 218 million members and generated more than 11 billion page views. New members signed up for the service at the astounding rate of more than two per second. Shares of LinkedIn, which have surged more than 45% this year, traded down slightly Wednesday, indicating that Wall Street isn’t too worried about the potential threat from News Corp. Indeed, News Corp. barely budged as well.
And then there’s Bloomberg, a company certainly familiar to Dow Jones CEO Lex Fenwick, who previously worked there as a high-ranking executive. According to Reuters, Fenwick Tuesday spoke to investors about a new product dubbed “DJX” that would compete with Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters (TOC). He also mentioned plans for a messaging system that would compete with Bloomberg’s terminal. Subscribers would get a two-minute jump on news broken by Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones reporters.
Bloomberg News has come under fire after customers such as Goldman Sachs (GS +1.35%) complained that its reporters were snooping on them using data that they had considered to be confidential. Though Bloomberg’s reputation has taken a hit, it’s important to remember that Bloomberg’s competitors have announced so-called “Bloomberg Killers” for years and none have amounted to much.
News Corp. CEO Robert Thompson noted the publishing company has no debt and $2 billion in cash. Of course, News Corp. is taking a write-down of $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in the current quarter on the value of its publishing assets, some of which, such as The New York Post, reportedly haven’t been profitable for years.
Murdoch has been able to prop up his publishing business with cash cows such as Fox News Channel, which will become part of the new 21st Century Fox. He is downplaying talk that he might buy Tribune’s papers. Indeed, he has a pretty full plate now.
–Jonathan Berr is a former Bloomberg reporter. He doesn’t own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.