Blank printing presses

Gutted by the arrival of Internet, newspaper companies have nonetheless printed very few transactions that could help them survive in the Media 2.0 era. One reason for the blank M&A pages: The currencies available to them are disappearing, according to Tim Connors, a partner at U.S. Venture Partners. Speaking on a panel at the recent IBF VC Investing Conference in San Francisco, Connors said the virtually uninterrupted slide in shares of many media company have taken a few would-be acquirers out of the market.

Indeed, we can only imagine it’s probably inconceivable for any of the newspaper companies to be shopping, at least not for an equity deal. Regional newspaper company McGannett shares are currently trading at their lowest level ever; USA Today-owner Gannett stock has sunk to a 14-year low and shares in the venerable New York Times are changing hands at levels not seen since mid-1996.

At the IBF conference, Connors noted USVP recently had an exit to an old media company. Portfolio company Adify, which runs advertising networks for some 120 vertically focused Web sites, got snapped up by Cox Enterprises for $300m. (Adify was in the midst of raising a third round of funding when Cox took them out. JP Morgan banked the deal after one of their analysts initially suggesting the two companies might strike a commercial relationship.) Incidentally, Cox paid its $300m bill for Adify in cash.