One of the most popular viral phenoms of the digital media boom is now essentially worthless.
That's not the claim of an analyst or disgruntled ex-employees; it's the conclusion reached by the Daily Mail, the company that bought Elite Daily in January 2015 for around $40 million.
The publishing company (DMGT) behind the Daily Mail wrote down the value of Elite Daily in its earnings report released on Thursday. In doing so, DMGT is saying that Elite Daily is worth far less than it had previously valued the viral content publisher.
The good news is that Elite Daily is bringing in more money. The bad news is that its losing far more. The company noted that Elite Daily's "audience retention and revenue growth have been disappointing and losses have exceeded expectations."
It continued that the DMGT now considers the company to be, essentially, worthless.
"The carrying value of the business's goodwill and intangible assets in DMGT's balance sheet has been written down completely, resulting in an impairment charge of £25 million," the company wrote in the earnings release .
The balance sheet below shows that Elite Daily's revenue has increased, but that growth has come at a high cost. Its losses grew far more rapidly.
Elite Daily was among the first publishers to focus entirely on viral content distributed through Facebook at a time when the social network appeared to be opening the floodgates to a near-unlimited flood of user traffic.
As the great Facebook flood began to level off, numerous viral-centric companies found bigger media companies willing to acquire them . ViralNova sold to Zealot Networks for a price tag reported to be near $100 million. Others, like UpWorthy, pivoted to generate more of their own content and try to establish a more loyal audience.
Since then, Facebook referrals have continued to decline for viral publishers, and Facebook has moved to host more content within the social network.