A done deal: Red Ventures, CNET Media Group officially become one company


Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias

Red Ventures

Ric Elias says the best conversation he ever had was the 30 seconds he spent shaking the hand of the man who saved his life, neither one of them saying a single word. 

That man was Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and the conversation took place almost 10 years after US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River. Elias, one of the 155 passengers and crew on board that “miracle” Jan. 15, 2009, flight, was at a banquet honoring Sullenberger and said more was conveyed in that half minute of silence than ever could’ve been expressed “with any words.”  

Elias shared that story with the staff of the CNET Media Group after announcing that Red Ventures, the company he co-founded in 2000, was acquiring CMG, a portfolio of brands that includes CNET, the world’s largest consumer tech site, and GameSpot, a leader in video game news and reviews. His near-death experience, Elias said, gave him a new sense of purpose and urgency, driving him to focus on the things that matter and to not postpone anything in life, because of how fast the world around us can change.

It’s a perspective many can appreciate given what’s happened in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed technology and digital services even more firmly into our lives, making consumer choices even more complicated. That fast-changing world and “massive digitization” isn’t just changing the way we live, work and play, it’s also disrupting businesses and business models — including in the publishing industry, Elias says. At the same time, “we’re seeing a crisis of trust in consumers,” he adds. “People want great content and they want to trust the sources that provide them with that content.”  

It’s against that backdrop that Red Ventures and CMG officially become one company on Friday. I asked Elias to answer a few questions for our readers about why it made sense to bring these brands together. Here’s what he had to say.


Members of the CNET team on the day actor John Travolta happened to stop by.

James Martin/CNET

Q: Why CNET Media Group? What is it about what we do that drew your attention?
Elias: First, let me state the obvious: The CNET Media Group platform includes some of the most trusted, legacy brands that have stayed ahead of trends for a quarter of a century on the Internet. Whether you’re looking at technology, gaming, entertainment, news, automotive or B2B, you have powerful brands publishing unbiased consumer advice that is second-to-none. The reach of CMG’s portfolio of brands, the value they bring to people across the globe, and the potential they have to become even bigger, is what interested us in CMG. Then, when we met the leadership team and started to understand the culture, we knew our potential together would be limitless. 

We believe in the power of premium content from trusted brands, and our investment in CMG’s portfolio opens the door to help more people discover information and seamlessly make decisions.


The Red Ventures London staff outside their office near Tower Bridge. 

Red Ventures

Who is Red Ventures? What do people need to know about your company?
Red Ventures has been growing for 20 years, and we still feel as if we’re just getting started. When we started out, we knew we wanted to build a company that we’d like to work for, and one that would outlive us. That continues to be our ultimate goal. 

Red Ventures connects people with the tools, information and experiences they want and need in a way that enables long-term, profitable growth for our brands and partners. The core of what we do is help people make important decisions about their homes, health, finances, travel, education and technology. How we do this is constantly improving and evolving. It’s our ability to adapt and learn — and the sheer passion of our teams — that has been our competitive advantage for all these years. 

What do you think are the challenges and opportunities for a media company, especially as consumers now have more choices than ever to find out what’s happening in the world around them?
We sit at a critical time and place, not just in terms of Red Ventures’ future but in terms of the world around us. 

We’re seeing a massive digitization across all industries, which has only been accelerated by COVID-19. That digitization is disrupting traditional media models, and we’re seeing the impact of that across the world of publishing. 

In addition, we’re seeing a crisis of trust in consumers; people want great content and they want to trust the sources that provide them with that content. People want relevant information and tools that are easy to find and use. They want seamless online buying experiences. At the same time, they want their privacy secured and they don’t want their data sold. We believe Red Ventures is better positioned than anyone to create a model that addresses all these issues and solves these problems.

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