The world of Formula 1 media is a difficult one these days. Everyone is cutting back because free news on the Internet has reduced conventional publishing to a shadow of its former self. What is most interesting is that there is some consolidation going on in the electronic world with a NASDAQ-listed company called Net Element Inc, having been quite active of late. The company used to be owned by American entrepreneur Mike Zoi, but he has been reducing his involvement significantly in recent years and the business is now part-owned and chaired by a Kazakh entrepreneur called Kenges Rakishev and is part-owned and run by Russian-born CEO Oleg Firer. The company was rather unusual in that it dealt primarily in mobile payments and transactional services (and gained in value recently thanks to a deal with Apple) while at the same time having a division that ran motorsport media operations. Net Element acquired Motorsport.com, a Florida-based website that reported on F1 using a Global Motorsport Media (GMM) feed, back in 2012. GMM has been operating for some years selling cheap news feeds about F1 to a number of websites that want to be considered as F1 media. Like most of its customers, however, GMM has never been accredited by the FIA, but prospered by collecting up all the stories it could find on the Internet, repackaging them into a daily news feed for websites that presumably could not even afford staff to do the same thing, let alone sending anyone to the races.
A little over a year ago Net Element acquired GMM, in a deal worth $35,410 in cash with a monthly consulting fee for the former owner of $6,640 for a period of 12 months.
Six months later Net Element decided to divest itself of the media activities and sold them to a company called T1T Lab LLC, owned by Zoi. This means that for the last 18 months all the websites using GMM feeds were, in effect, providing money for a rival website, which is fairly amusing when you stop to think about it. One can only presume that its customers either do not know this piece of information or did not care.
In an effort to buy itself a little bit more credibility, motorsport.com has recently engaged the services of former Autosport editor Charles Bradley, his role being to build the website into a bigger and better business, presumably with revenues derived from advertising, as relying on your rivals to go on paying for you when word gets out what you are doing is rather pushing your luck.
Still, one has to be impressed by the motorsport.com getting their rivals to pay for their business…