CNET (short for Computer Network) is an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally, owned by Red Ventures since 2020. Founded in 1994 by Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie, it was the flagship brand of CNET Networks and became a brand of CBS Interactive through that unit's acquisition of CNET Networks in 2008, which was the previous owner prior to October 30, 2020. CNET originally produced content for radio and television in addition to its website and now uses new media distribution methods through its Internet television network, CNET Video, and its podcast and blog networks.
Type of site
|Created by||Halsey Minor |
|Editor||Lindsey Turrentine |
|Launched||March 5, 1994|
In addition, CNET has region-specific and language-specific editions. These include Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.
In 1994, with the help from Fox Network co-founder Kevin Wendle and former Disney creative associate Dan Baker, CNET produced four pilot television programs about computers, technology, and the Internet. CNET TV was composed of CNET Central, The Web, and The New Edge. CNET Central was created first and aired in syndication in the United States on the USA Network. Later, it began airing on USA's sister network Sci-Fi Channel along with The Web and The New Edge. These were later followed by TV.com in 1996. Current American Idol host Ryan Seacrest first came to national prominence at CNET, as the host of The New Edge and doing various voice-over work for CNET.
From 2001 to 2003, CNET operated CNET Radio on the Clear Channel-owned KNEW (910) in the San Francisco Bay Area, WBPS (890) in Boston, and XM Satellite Radio. CNET Radio offered technology-themed programming. After failing to attract a sufficient audience, CNET Radio ceased operating in January 2003 due to financial losses.
Acquisitions and expansionsEdit
As CNET Networks, the site made various acquisitions to expand its reach across various web platforms, regions, and markets.
In 1998, CNET granted the right to Asiacontent.com to set up CNET Asia and the operation was brought back in December 2000.
In October 2000, CNET Networks acquired ZDNet for approximately $1.6 billion. In January 2001, Ziff Davis Media, Inc. reached an agreement with CNET Networks, Inc. to regain the URLs lost in the 2000 sale of Ziff Davis, Inc. to SoftBank Corp. a publicly traded Japanese media and technology company. In April 2001, CNET acquired TechRepublic Inc., which provides content for IT professionals from Gartner, Inc., for $23 million in cash and stock.
In May 2002, CNET acquired Smartshop, an automated product catalog and feature comparison technology company, for an undisclosed amount.
On July 14, 2004, CNET announced that it would acquire Webshots, the leading photography website for $70 million ($60 million in cash, $10 million in deferred consideration), completing the acquisition that same month. In October 2007, they sold Webshots to American Greetings for $45 million.
In August 2005, CNET acquired Metacritic, a review aggregation website, for an undisclosed amount.
In December 2006, James Kim, an editor at CNET, died in the Oregon wilderness. CNET hosted a memorial show and podcasts dedicated to him.
On March 1, 2007, CNET announced the public launch of BNET, a website targeted towards business managers. BNET had been running under beta status since 2005.
On May 15, 2008 it was announced that CBS Corporation would buy CNET Networks for US$1.8 billion. On June 30, 2008, the acquisition was completed. Former CNET properties were managed under CBS Interactive at the time. CBS Interactive acquired many domain names originally created by CNET Networks, including download.com, downloads.com, upload.com, news.com, search.com, TV.com, mp3.com, chat.com, computers.com, shopper.com, com.com, and cnet.com. It also held radio.com until CBS Radio was sold to Entercom in 2017.
On September 19, 2013 CBS Interactive launched a Spanish language sister site under the name CNET en Español. It focuses on topics of relevance primarily to Spanish-speaking technology enthusiasts. The site offered a "new perspective" on technology and is under the leadership of managing editor Gabriel Sama. The site not only offered news and tutorials, but also had a robust reviews section that it was led by Juan Garzon. After Red Ventures' acquisition, the company announced the closing of CNET en Español on November 11, 2020, leaving the largest tech site in Spanish in the US out of the market.
In March 2014, CNET refreshed its site by merging with CNET UK and vowing to merge all editions of the agency into a unified agency. This merge brought many changes, foremost of which would be a new user interface and the renaming of CNET TV as CNET Video.
CNET launched a website to cover video games, CNET Gamecenter, in the middle of 1996. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was "one of the first Web sites devoted to computer gaming news". It became a leading game-focused website; in 1999, PC Magazine named it one of the hundred-best websites in any field, alongside competitors IGN and GameSpot. According to Gamecenter head Michael Brown, the site received between 50,000 and 75,000 daily visitors by late 2000. In May 2000, CNET founded the Gamecenter Alliance network to bring Gamecenter and four partner websites, including Inside Mac Games, under one banner. Nielsen//NetRatings ranked Gamecenter the sixth-most-popular gaming website in the United States by mid-2000.
On July 19, 2000, CNET made public its plan to buy Ziff-Davis and its ZDNet Internet business for $1.6 billion. Because ZDNet had partnered with SpotMedia—parent company of GameSpot—in late 1996, the acquisition brought both GameSpot and Gamecenter under CNET's ownership. Later that year, The New York Times described the two publications as the "Time and Newsweek of gaming sites". The paper reported that Gamecenter "seem[ed] to be thriving" amid the dot-com crash, with its revenue distributed across online advertising and an affiliate sales program with CNET's Game Shopper website, launched in late 1999.
Following an almost $400 million loss at CNET as a result of the dot-com crash, the company ended the Gamecenter Alliance network in January 2001. On February 7, Gamecenter itself was closed in a redundancy reduction effort, as GameSpot was the more successful of the two sites. Around 190 jobs were cut from CNET during this period, including "at least 20" at Gamecenter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Discussing the situation, Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer reported, "It is thought[...] that very few if any of the website's staff will move sideways into jobs at GameSpot, now the company's other gaming asset." The Washington Post later noted that Gamecenter was among the "popular video-game news sites" to close in 2001, alongside Daily Radar.
Malware infection in downloadsEdit
With a catalog of more than 400,000 titles, the Downloads section of the website allows users to download popular software. CNET's download.com provides Windows, Macintosh, and mobile software for download. CNET claims that this software is free of spyware, but independent sources have confirmed that this is not the case. While Download.com is overall a safe place to download programs, precautions should be taken before downloading from the site, as some downloads do contain malware.
Dispute with Snap TechnologiesEdit
In 1998, CNET was sued by Snap Technologies, operators of the education service CollegeEdge, for trademark infringement relating to CNET's ownership of the domain name Snap.com, due to Snap Technologies already owning a trademark on its name.
In 2005, Google representatives refused to be interviewed by all CNET reporters for a year after CNET published Google's CEO Eric Schmidt's salary and named the neighborhood where he lives, as well as some of his hobbies and political donations. All the information had been gleaned from Google searches.
On October 10, 2006, Shelby Bonnie resigned as chairman and CEO, in addition to two other executives, as a result of a stock options backdating scandal that occurred between 1996 and 2003. This would also cause the firm to restate its financial earnings over 1996 to 2003 for over $105 million in resulting expenses. The Securities and Exchange Commission later dropped an investigation into the practice. Neil Ashe was named as the new CEO.
In 2011, CNET and CBS Interactive were sued by a coalition of artists (led by FilmOn founder Alki David) for copyright infringement by promoting the download of LimeWire, a popular peer to peer downloading software. Although the original suit was voluntarily dropped by Alki David, he vowed to sue at a later date to bring "expanded" action against CBS Interactive. In November 2011, another lawsuit against CBS Interactive was introduced, claiming that CNET and CBS Interactive knowingly distributed LimeWire, the file sharing software.
In January 2013, CNET named Dish Network's "Hopper with Sling" digital video recorder as a nominee for the CES "Best in Show" award (which is decided by CNET on behalf of its organizers), and named it the winner in a vote by the site's staff. However, CBS abruptly disqualified the Hopper, and vetoed the results because the company was in active litigation with Dish Network. CNET also announced that it could no longer review any product or service provided by companies that CBS are in litigation with (which also includes Aereo). The new vote subsequently gave the Best in Show award to the Razer Edge tablet instead.
Dish Network's CEO Joe Clayton said that the company was "saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS' heavy-handed tactics." On January 14, 2013, editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine addressed the situation, stating that CNET's staff were in an "impossible" situation due to the conflict of interest posed by the situation, and promised that she would do everything within her power to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. The conflict also prompted one CNET senior writer, Greg Sandoval, to resign.
The decision also drew the ire of staff from the Consumer Electronics Association, the organizers of CES; CEO Gary J. Shapiro criticized the decision in a USA Today op-ed column and a statement by the CEA, stating that "making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer." Shapiro felt that the decision also hurt the confidence of CNET's readers and staff, "destroying its reputation for editorial integrity in an attempt to eliminate a new market competitor." As a result of the controversy and fearing damage to the show's brand, the CEA announced on January 31, 2013 that CNET will no longer decide the CES Best in Show award winner due to the interference of CBS (the position has been offered to other technology publications), and the "Best in Show" award was jointly awarded to both the Hopper with Sling and Razer Edge.
- The reviews section of the site is the largest part of the site, and generates over 4,300 product and software reviews per year. The Reviews section also features Editors' Choice Awards, which recognize products that are particularly innovative and of the highest quality.
- CNET News (formerly known as News.com), launched in 1996, is a news website dedicated to technology. CNET News received the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online. Content is created by both CNET and external media agencies as news articles and blogs.
- CNET Video, formerly called CNET TV, is CNET's Internet video channel offering a selection of on-demand video content including video reviews, "first looks," and special features. CNET editors such as Brian Cooley, Jeff Bakalar, and Bridget Carey host shows like Car Tech, The 404 Show, Quick Tips, CNET Top 5, Update, video prizefights, and others, as well as special reports and reviews. On April 12, 2007, CNET Video aired its first episode of CNET LIVE, hosted by Brian Cooley and Tom Merritt. The first episode featured Justin Kan of justin.tv.
- Officially launched August 2011, How To is the learning area of CNET providing tutorials, guides, and tips for technology users.
- "CNET.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
- Farber, Dan (August 27, 2008). "Welcome to the new CNET".
- "CBS Corporation to acquire CNET Networks, Inc". CBS Corporation. May 15, 2008. Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- "CBS to buy CNET Networks". CNET. May 15, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- "CBS buying CNet in online push". CNN. May 15, 2008. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- "CBS Corporation completes acquisition of CNET Networks; merges operations into new, expanded CBS Interactive Business Unit". CBS Corporation. June 30, 2008. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
- "Digital Hollywood Conference". September 27, 2000. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- "CNET Networks – About Us – History". CNET Networks. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- Entertainment Weekly Archived April 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Sterling, Christopher H. (May 13, 2013). Biographical Dictionary of Radio. Routledge. p. 321. ISBN 978-1-136-99376-3.
- "CNet pulls plug on radio program". Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. January 16, 2003. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Aug 6, 1999". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Networks, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date Apr 1, 2002" (PDF). secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET-Ziff-Davis Merger Leaves Asiacontent.com Wondering".
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Jan 24, 2000". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Mar 10, 2000". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Acquires mySimon". InternetNews. January 20, 2000. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Oct 27, 2000". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "Cnet To Buy Ziff Davis". InformationWeek. July 19, 2000. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "Interview With CNETnews.com's Sydnie Kohara". JournalismJobs.com. January 2001. Archived from the original on April 13, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "CNET Networks, Form 10-Q, Quarterly Report, Filing Date May 14, 2001". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET acquires TechRepublic for $23 million". San Francisco Business Times. April 9, 2001. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Jul 21, 2004". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Aug 9, 2004" (PDF). secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Acquires Photo Service Webshots For $70 Million". Archived from the original on December 6, 2008.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Oct 31, 2007" (PDF). secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNET Networks rolls out BNET, Web site targeting business managers". BtoB Magazine. March 1, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date May 15, 2008" (PDF). secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CBS Corporation to acquire CNET Networks, Inc". CBS Corporation. May 15, 2008. Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- "CNET Networks, Form POS AM, Filing Date Jul 7, 2008". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CBS Shareholders Bought Into Entercom. But Will They Stay?". Insideradio.com. November 20, 2017.
- Lindsey Turrentine (September 19, 2013). "CNET en Español is here. Bienvenidos". CNET News. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- Lindsey Turrentine (August 22, 2013). "Meet the man who will run CNET en Español". CNET News. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- "Red Ventures acquires CNET Media Group from ViacomCBS for $500M". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
- Spangler, Todd (September 14, 2020). "ViacomCBS Reaches Deal to Sell CNET for $500 Million to Marketing Firm Red Ventures". Variety. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
- "Red Ventures Announces Closing of Acquisition of CNET Media Group". PR Newswire. October 30, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
- Olafson, Peter (December 7, 2000). "BASICS; Sites Keep Up With Games and Gamers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018.
- Fost, Dan (February 15, 2001). "Heavy Lifting Begins for Cnet". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018.
- Vaggabond (July 19, 2000). "Cnet buys ZDnet". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018.
- Desslock (February 8, 2001). "Desslock's Ramblings - Online Commercial Gaming Sites Continue to Disappear - Gamecenter.com (and others) Kaput". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 18, 2001. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Willmott, Don (February 9, 1999). "The 100 Top Web Sites". PC Magazine. 18 (3): 114.
- "CNET Gamecenter Partners with Premier Gaming Sites to Create Elite Alliance" (Press release). San Francisco: CNET. May 11, 2000. Archived from the original on August 11, 2004. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- Strother, Neil (June 6, 2000). "加熱する米ゲーム市場，人気が高いのはどのサイト？". ZDNet (in Japanese). Archived from the original on August 16, 2000.
- Kuczynski, Alex; Winter, Greg (July 20, 2000). "CNet Is Buying What Remains Of Ziff-Davis". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010.
- Staff (September 19, 1996). "Ziff, SpotMedia Create Mega-Site for Games". Ad Age. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018.
- Smith, Andrew (February 7, 2001). "CNET shuts Gamecenter". The Register. Archived from the original on December 4, 2004.
- "CNET's Gamecenter.com Launches Game Shopper" (Press release). San Francisco: PR Newswire. October 27, 1999. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- Bramwell, Tom (February 7, 2001). "CNet culls GameCenter". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018.
- Musgrove, Mike (August 3, 2001). "Magazines Whose Time Has Gone". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- "Antivirus scan for 5bd70802c051fd95d0d78ac168385cd504705c00526ded2fd5edebdcc32d48f6 at 2011-12-05 22:23:24 UTC - VirusTotal". Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
- "Nmap Announce: C-Net Download.Com is now bundling Nmap with malware!".
- "Download.com wraps downloads in bloatware, lies about motivations - ExtremeTech".
- "Warning: Download.com (CNET Downloads) A cesspool for privacy invading malware and rogue software - Botcrawl". December 9, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Here's What Happens When You Install the Top 10 Download.com Apps".
- "Download.com Caught Adding Malware to Nmap & Other Software".
- Lisa Bowman (November 21, 1998). "Snap! Crackle! Popped! CNet hit with suit over portal name". ZDNet News. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Google balances privacy, reach (including Erik Schmidt's personal information)". CNET. July 14, 2005. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- Taylor, Jerome (August 18, 2010). "Interview to E. Schmidt". The Independent. London. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- "CNET: We've been blackballed by Google". CNN. August 5, 2005. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- "CNET Networks, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date Oct 11, 2006". secdatabase.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "CNet Restatement Goes Back to 1996". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- "CNET completes options review, CEO resigns". Reuters. October 11, 2006. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- "CNET Avoids Backdating Charges". Aba Journal. November 5, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2011. Cite journal requires
- Stock-Option Backdating Claims CNet's CEO, AdAge, October 11, 2006, retrieved July 8, 2011
- Albanesius, Chloe, PCMag.com (May 11, 2011). "CBS, CNET Sued for Copyright Infringement Over LimeWire Distribution". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Anderson, Nate, Ars Technica (May 4, 2011). "CNET sued over LimeWire, blamed for "Internet Piracy Phenomenon"". Ars Technica.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Sam Gustin (November 16, 2011). "Alki David Drops CNET Lawsuit; Vows to Bring 'Expanded' Action". PaidContent. Archived from the original on January 8, 2012.
- Ernesto, torrentfreak.com (November 15, 2011). "Artists Sue CBS, CNET, for Promoting and Profiting from Piracy". TorrentFreak.
- "Dish Recorder Snubbed for CNET Award Over CBS Legal Scuffle". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Albanesius, Chloe. "CNET Picked Dish Hopper as 'Best of CES' ... Until CBS Stepped In". PC Magazine. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- "CNET loses CES awards following Dish Hopper controversy; DVR named 'Best In Show'". The Verge. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- "CNET News.com Wins Coveted National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online". Business Wire. May 5, 2004. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
- "Wrap it up".
- "CNET Live: April 12, 2007 video".