Wherein I get to
announce news that hasn’t officially been announced only because somebody else beat me to it and, well, it’s no longer news, now tell you what I’ve been itching to say for the past [undisclosed amount of time] because the news has been embargoed till now. Whew!
Update 10/28/2008: This post has been updated with information from the October 28 Muskegon Chronicle news story. See below …
Update 11/07/08: ChristianityToday.com interviewed Zondervan CEO, Moe Girkins, on the recent acquisition of the Bible Gateway and Gospel.com. See: “Why Zondervan Bought BibleGateway.com: CEO Moe Girkins wants to take the site beyond just verses. iTunes-style commentaries, anyone?” (Interview by Jeremy Weber)
Ever since Gospel Communications announced the closure of their Internet division and Web-hosting ministry (as I noted here), there’s been a lot of speculation about the eventual fate of the Bible Gateway, one of the most highly-visited sites anywhere (Alexa.com ranks it as #1,837 as of today). Friends from CTI speculated that it would get snapped up by one of the Bible Societies, friends on Twitter wondered whether it would fade away, others wondered who could do as good a job.
I’m happy to announce, though, that the Bible Gateway has been acquired by my own employer: Zondervan (which is owned by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation). Though Zondervan hasn’t issued a press release yet, and it’s officially still a secret, Larry Tomlinson (DotComLarry) broke the news last Thursday at 1:32 PM via Twitter:
BTW, I couldn’t talk about this yesterday, but BibleGateway and Gospel.com has been bought by Zondervan publishers.
01:32 PM October 23, 2008 from web, view Tweet
Apparently, when a “confidential” announcement was made at the recent Internet Ministry Conference it was being streamed live online — thus, several Twitterers, live-bloggers, and stream watchers, uh, paid attention. :: whoops! :: So, that cat’s out of the bag, but there are still further announcements regarding the fate of the rest of the GospelCom properties waiting to be made. Viewing the Twitter stream regarding GospelCom, it does look like there will be some continuity of mission and purpose. Somewhere.
Meanwhile, there are big plans in the works for extending and expanding the Gateway. I don’t know what those plans are (I’m not privy to those official discussions, really), but the rumors are interesting. And, really, it’s just like putting peanut butter in your chocolate to mix a Bible gateway with a major publisher of Bibles and related materials (commentaries, exegetical tools, Bible studies, curricula, devotionals, and on-and-on).
I only hope that we keep the spirit of the original Bible Gateway’s mission alive and that it remains one of the most truly useful online Bibles ever created.
Update: Before I got a chance to post this, I received three pieces of communication. One came from Moe Girkins, my Ã¼ber-boss at Zondervan, officially announcing the acquisition internally. To my surprise and delight, I learned that, “In addition to BibleGateway.com, our agreement also gives us rights to Gospel.com, an online community of Christian organizations.” Even better, Moe writes, “BibleGateway.com will not be just a Zondervan initiative. Rather, our vision is for this to continue as truly cross-publisher and the result of a team effort of a wide variety of content providers focused on meeting the needs of Christians and seekers alike.” And just to help make the transition smooth, half-a-dozen or more GospelCom employees will be coming to work at Zondervan immediately.
The second piece of email came from long-time friend, Peggie Bohanon, of Peggie’s Place, who wanted to let her readers know about the acquisition. Peggie also let us know that the acquisition deal does not include the ministry Web hosting provision, which kept over 300 non-profit ministries afloat on the Web. Fortunately, there’s 5Q Communications to help with the hosting (founded by former GospelCommers, some of whom I’ve meet and can recommend as smart, quality guys). That is, in fact, where ol’ Peg-leg’s moving, herself. So, if you’re looking for hosting, they might be worth looking into.
The third piece of email came from Moe Girkin’s executive assistant, green-lighting my release of this news here, now. So, you (may have) read it here first.
Today the Muskegon Chronicle announced this story (by Clayton Hardiman, who also broke the news of GospelCom’s closing back on September 12), “Gospel Communications Online Sold.” Strangely, the main story is not yet online, anywhere, but here are some salient quotes from the paper:
The future of Gospel Communications’ ministries had been in a state of limbo since early September when the agency’s board of directors, promoted by at least two years of fiscal difficulties, informed partner ministries it would shut down its Web-hosting services. …
Gospel Communications … began operations as Gospel Films Inc. 58 years ago … [and] became the largest distributor of Christian films and videos in the world. …
As part of the acquisition, eight [GospelCom] staffers … have been hired by Zondervan to continue their work on BibleGateway.com.
(The article notes that the BibleGateway was born in 1995 and was developed by Nick Hengeveld. Actually, the gateway was announced to the world on Tuesday, December 28, 1993. It was then hosted at Calvin College, where Hengeveld was a student and network administrator. However, when Nick came to Gospel Communications as their first webmaster, he brought his gateway with him — much to the delight of his new employer, I’m sure. When Hengeveld left in 2006, his brainchild stayed behind.)
The Grand Rapids Press also weighed in with its story, “Zondervan acquires religious site BibleGateway.com,” by Julia Bauer. It pulled in a quote by CEO Moe Girkins:
“Our vision is for BibleGateway.com to be the premier online aggregator of Biblical resources, blending relevant content and community features for anyone searching for information to help them in their spiritual journey, wherever they may be,” said Moe Girkins, Zondervan president and CEO.
(Again, in the interests of full disclosure, if you haven’t noticed by now, I work at Zondervan, though not in the business unit that will be working with the Gateway.)
It’s an interesting time to be a part of Zondervan’s story!
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