WSJ buying MarketWatch, NYT buying About.com. the Washington Post Co. buying Slate. and a virtual horse race of big Internet players buying up startups with promising technologies all point to the telltale signs of Internet Bubble II.
These may all be good deals, but expect to see a lot of money burned on mergers and acquisitions that would never work and business plans straight from the Meth Lab.
The driver is the growing penetration of "always on" ubiquitous Internet access from broadband in the home, WiFi networks and cell phones.
And newspaper companies are scrambling to redouble their efforts to be part of the next "New, New Thing" (to steal the title of Michael Lewis' 2000 book).
Frank Arhens' Feb. 20, piece in the Washington Post "Hard News, Daily Papers Face Unprecedented Competition . . .." nails the issues for newspapers.
"I could argue pretty forcefully that the free model and the non-newsprint model is what we're looking at in the future," said San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein. "Things are moving far quicker than we thought a few years ago" to new outlets besides ink-on-paper.
Can we make the transition? If we play it smart, we can (... I hope).