Social Media NZ co-founder John Lai has confirmed that he has sold his website to independent advertising and social media marketing agency Catalyst90.
Established in 2009 by Lai and Leonardo Law, Social Media NZ serves as blog-styled platform that provides information and news stories related to the digital sphere in New Zealand (Lai bought Law's shares two years ago and has since then run the company independently).
“When I started Social Media NZ nearly three years ago, the idea was to provide New Zealand a hub where people could come together to talk all things digital. I wanted to provide a forum where Kiwis could share technology stories, news and build an online community,” says Lai.
Although the website was traditionally updated quite regularly throughout its history, there have only been two new stories published this year—both related to Catalyst90's acquisition of the website.
It’s thought that the dip in posts since last year is attributable to Lai's emigration to Malaysia and his decision to sell the website.
In August last year, Lai moved to Malaysia where he took on a role as the head of digital at Go Communications, a position he held until January this year.
According to his LinkedIn page, he currently holds dual roles as a digital content manager for McCann-Erickson Malaysia and as a tech and digital advisor for Fox Sports Asia.
In addition to this, Lai also says that he will remain involved with Catalyst90 on an advisory level to ensure that the transition is smooth.
“I will still be working with [Catalyst90 founder] Tom Reidy and his team as an advisor to help continue the evolution of Social Media NZ. We will keep the core values of Social Media NZ at heart, but this time the experience will be on a bigger and better stage,” he says.
“In short, the Social Media NZ brand will still be the same brand everyone has come to know and love, the only difference will be the rocket ship strapped to its back to propel the brand where it needs to be.”
Catalyst90 general manager Jess Bovey concurred with these sentiments to some degree, but adopted a less metaphorical approach in describing the new owner's aims to grow the brand in terms of reach and utility.
"Social Media NZ will continue to operate as a news and information hub on all things social media, however we will be working to extend the horizons of the brand and the information that it provides to the market. We see it as an opportunity to further assist in the knowledge growth of the industry as well as a way to celebrate the success that many are having in the ever changing world of social media. We will also be bringing further offerings to the market through Social Media NZ and will share them in due course," she says.
Bovey also says that these goals correlate directly with the reasons why Catalyst90 decided to purchase the website.
"We made the decision ... for two reasons: the opportunity to continue to educate the market and celebrate those that have success within it; [and] the other reason is for the alignment of content production, distribution and building the personal brands of individuals within the industry."
The Catalyst90 general manager was also asked what the value of deal was, but she declined to comment in this regard.