Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite reports, “The integration of old media and new media can often be like trying to mix oil and water. Even when smart media entities have been proactive in approaching the new digital paradigm – the world of smartphones and tablets, social and serendipity – they have failed either through poor decision making or not putting in a full effort. But CNN is different. Where many newspapers and cable companies have faltered, CNN has thrived. A lot of the credit goes to  the cable news company’s acquisition of Zite, the makers of a popular iPad news app.”

He goes on, “Zite is a social content discovery engine. It uses signals from sources like Twitter and Facebook to determine what a subscriber likes to read and deliver content they might not find otherwise. It began as an iPad app and was acquired by CNN in Aug. 2011. Many ZIte users cringed when they heard that CNN was taking over. The acquisition had all the hallmarks of the failed strategies that have been replayed over and over in big media since the advent of the Web: aging media behemoth thinks it can innovate by acquiring hot new media startup, then runs it into the ground. For Zite’s part, it was apprehensive about being acquired in the first place. ‘To be blunt, we had no desire for Zite to be acquired after what happened at Microsoft,’ said Zite CEO Mark Johnson.”

Rowinski explains, “Johnson was part of Powerset, a semantic search startup that was acquired by Microsoft in 2008. Johnson notes that out of about 60 people from Powerset that went to Microsoft, only about six of them are left at the company. So when CNN approached Zite about an acquisition last year, Johnson was wary about going in that direction.”

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Image: Courtesy CNN