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HubPages sells to Maven, giving venture investors exit after 12 years

HubPages attracts more than 35 million visitors a month through its 27 domains. Close to 70 percent of that traffic is now on mobile, Edmondson said.

The business has stabilized since 2016, when HubPages narrowed its focus to those 27 particular subjects and committed to obtaining premium content that could be edited by in-house professionals.

In previous years, HubPages’ success was tied to Google and fluctuated based on whatever the web giant did with its search engine. For example, in May 2015, HubPages saw its traffic plunge 22 percent in one week after Google suddenly lowered the visibility of how-to sites. Like with most of Google’s algorithm changes, there was no warning and no explanation.

“Imagine how hard it is to run a business when you see 22 percent of your traffic evaporate overnight,” Edmondson told CNBC for a story about that change, which was dubbed “Phantom 2” by one analyst.

It was just the latest in a series of hits that HubPages had faced over the years. Building an independent online media company has mostly been a losing model, as ad dollars have concentrated in the hands of the giant internet and entertainment businesses.

HubPages was able to raise venture money in 2007 and 2008, and then never again.

Far from taking a breather, Edmondson is now likely to be working even harder. The company has performance targets it has to meet for him to maximize his pay, and he also wants to do what he can to help Maven’s stock.

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