By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Revolution Health Network, the online health-care business launched by former AOL chairman Steve Case, is in discussions to merge with Everyday Health, a marriage that would join two of the three most-visited online health information networks.
Sources familiar with the discussions said that the merger was still in the negotiation stage and that Case's role had not been decided. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the companies had not authorized anyone to disclose details of the private talks.
Everyday Health is owned by New York-based Waterfront Media and provides consumers with online health and wellness information. It includes information from 20 nationally recognized specialists from leading medical institutions, a three-minute health check and condition-specific meal plans.
If the merger goes through, the combined company would be likely to eclipse the online traffic at WebMD, which has led the category for years.
"We don't comment on rumors or speculation," said Brad Burns, spokesman for Revolution Health.
Ben Wolin, chief executive of Waterfront Media, also declined to confirm the talks.
"Whatever happens with Revolution, it's going to be a substantive change to the marketplace," he said, adding that "we have always been intent on being number one, one way or another."
In data released yesterday by Web-ratings firm ComScore, WebMD led the health information category with 17.3 million visitors in July. Waterfront was second with 14.7 million, and Revolution Health Network was third with 11.3 million monthly visitors.
ComScore said yesterday that the health information category had grown 21 percent during the past year, more than four times faster than the U.S. Internet audience as a whole.
Revolution Health Network is one of five health-related units in Case's Revolution Health Group. The other units are not part of the merger talks, sources said. The separate companies include Redi-Clinic, Extend Health, BrainScope and SparkPeople.
Revolution Health Network has had two rounds of layoffs over the past year totaling more than 100 employees as the company reorganized operations following two acquisitions.
Case launched the business after his brother's battle with brain cancer. Case has received backing from several prominent figures, including former secretary of state Colin L. Powell and former Fortune 500 chief executives Franklin D. Raines and Carly Fiorina.