Founded by a media baron to assist print and broadcast companies expand their online presence and later bought out of bankruptcy to help launch another media company, the technology that was the basis for KOZ is losing its last links to the media industry.
MediaSpan Group is switching its media clients to different software platforms to handle their pre-press and community-based online content needs. The moveleaves behind the Community Publishing Software system (CPS) technology developed by KOZ in the mid-1990s, says MediaSpan Chief Operating Officer Sam Whitt.
About a dozen non-media customers will continue to use CPS, but MediaSpan is farming out the maintenance of those accounts to a third party, Whitt says. He declines to provide more information about the licensing deal, except to say that the third party focuses on web hosting.
“We’ve moved beyond the hosting end of things and don’t need the big databases for our business,” he says. “The third party can put in the technology and the time to continue to run the operation and let us focus on our media customers.”
The company’s print clients have been switched to a platform offered by Harris Publishing System and Baseview, which MediaSpan bought in late 2001. Broadcast stations are now using technology MediaSpan acquired from Citadel Communications last year, Whitt says.
“We’ve put in more traditional backend software that is more appropriate to their needs,” he says. “It’s not really a big deal, just an upgrade in service for them.”
KOZ raised $36M in VC
KOZ was founded in 1995 by Frank Daniels III, the scion of the family that formerly owned the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh and a chain of smaller dailies and weeklies across the Carolinas.
The company provided tools like CPS that media customers used to expand their own websites into the field of “community publishing” by enabling clubs, church groups, schools nonprofits and other organizations to create their own web pages that were linked to the homepage of a newspaper or radio station. It also bought a service that allowed its customers to accommodate online chat groups.
After raising $36 million in venture capital over several years and building a stable of newspaper and radio clients, KOZ ran into financial trouble when the economy turned sour three years ago. A downturn in the newspaper industry and a tighter venture capital market dried up the company’s revenue and forced it into bankruptcy in April 2001.
KOZ Chief Executive Steve Vetter and some of its investors bought the company’s technology out of bankruptcy for $1.3 million a few weeks later and combined it with other holdings assembled from failed dot-coms to create MediaSpan. The reformulated company now has more than 3,000 print and radio clients.
MediaSpan Group: www.mediaspangroup.com