Scripps creates second venture fund

Tue, September 28, 1999 by Tim Stautberg

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The E.W. Scripps Company today announced that it has committed $100 million for the creation of a second venture fund that, like its predecessor, will focus primarily on early-stage Internet and electronic commerce companies.Scripps Ventures II will finance Internet entrepreneurs with the purpose of uncovering long-term growth opportunities in the new digital economy. The first Scripps Ventures fund of $50 million was created in 1996 and has invested in 19 companies. Companies in its portfolio include Garden.com, an online specialty retailer of gardening products, information and services; HomePortfolio.com, an Internet destination for premium home design products; iSyndicate, a syndicator of Internet content; and Centra Software, a provider of Internet software for live training and business collaboration. The fund’s investment in Garden.com, which began trading publicly on the NASDAQ stock market Sept.16 has increased about five-fold. “The success of our initial fund, which has shown its potential to produce handsome returns, convinced us to create the second,” said William R. Burleigh, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Scripps. “Our ventures initiatives provide the prospect of strong returns on a portion of our free cash flow while at the same time giving the company a unique opportunity of having a front-row seat as the new digital economy unfolds.” Douglas R. Stern, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Ventures, said the funds are “distinguished by a hands-on, down-to-earth approach.”“When we fund a new enterprise, we make a major commitment to help it succeed, and remain committed through the difficult times as well as the good,” said Stern, who also is president and CEO of United Media, a licensing, syndication and new media subsidiary operated by Scripps. “Scripps Ventures is focused on generating strong financial returns and we remain 100 percent aligned with the interests of the companies in which we invest.”Scripps Ventures typically invests from $1 million to $5 million in the form of first and second-round funding. The fund seeks committed entrepreneurs, a well-defined strategy, a highly experienced management team and a strong or unique value proposition. The funds’ chief industries of focus are consumer and business-to-business e-commerce, Internet services and education.The fund prefers the lead investor role, initiating syndicated or co-investment deals based on close relationships with other venture capital funds. Scripps Ventures holds seats on the boards of most of its portfolio companies.The fund looks for investments that are strategically compatible with the core businesses of The E.W. Scripps Company, which include newspapers, broadcast television stations, 24-hour cable television networks, television programming production and news feature licensing and syndication. However, the fund also will invest in concepts outside the scope of the parent company’s core portfolio.The E.W. Scripps Company operates 19 daily newspapers; nine network-affiliated television stations; two TV networks, Home & Garden Television and the Food Network; a TV programmer, Scripps Productions; United Media, a worldwide syndicator and licensor of features and comics; the Scripps Howard News Service; and publishes independent Yellow Pages directories. Scripps also operates 31 revenue-producing Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com and comics.com.