Despite the recent sale of its enterprise group — a set of tech trade magazines including eWeek — vultures are circling technology publisher Ziff-Davis. Today it announced it was forced to forgo an interest payment on its $390 million debt. The skipped payment is permitted under its debt covenants, says CEO Jason Young, who expects Ziff will "be able to restructure our debt outside of the courts." Young, of course, would like you to think that the aging print publisher is remaking itself into a digital-media growth machine. But how many startups do you know have $390 million in debt — largely because of bets on print vehicles that have yet to pay off?
The hemorrhaging is in part due to Ziff-Davis's heavy investment in videogame magazines. Three folded in the past two years — Xbox Nation, GMR, and The Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine — as readers moved online. So far it has been unable to sell off website 1UP.com and its two remaining videogame magazines.
Ziff-Davis has sought the aid of bankruptcy advisers Alvarez & Marsal, who a Folio source described as a last-ditch effort: "This is the first step in the public, ugly dismantling of one of the most storied companies in our business."