The Los Angeles Times Media Group and two partners on Monday launched ZetaBid, a real estate auction platform to target the burgeoning foreclosure business.
The initiative targets both U.S. and international buyers through a network that includes print, broadcast and online media. The venture includes as partners Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, U.K.-based GoIndustry-DoveBid and CataList Homes, a Southern California brokerage. The first auctions are set to go live in late September, according to reports.
The LA Times reported the initiative in its Aug. 23 edition, and added, The venture is the struggling media company’s latest effort to tap additional revenue streams beyond newspaper advertising. “These businesses are transforming and [ZetaBid is] another way to participate in advertising revenue with a slightly different model,” the Times quoted Bob Bellack, the Times Media Group’s president of digital media, classified and development. Bellack is chairman of the new enterprise.
“The traditional newspaper model doesn’t exist anymore,” he added. “The next-generation media company is a company that facilitates transactions and helps buyers and sellers come together.”
The report followed that quote with an odd-placed, cigarette-warning-label-type statement which distanced the Times from the endeavor: The Los Angeles Times is part of Times Media Group but has no connection to the new venture, said Times Editor Russ Stanton. “We will treat ZetaBid like any other real estate entity from a coverage standpoint,” Stanton was quoted.
The piece also pointed out that Fitch Ratings cut the credit rating for Times’ parent Tribune Co. to “junk” status. Fitch warned that a further reduction was possible if ad revenues continued their present course.
It’s a sign of the times that foreclosures are where the money is in the U.S. real estate market — a desperate, emotionally charged sign that conjures images of evictions, homeless families and sheriff’s sales. That LATMG is going after this segment is possibly why the Times editor wished to distance his newsroom from it.