A holding company that invests the wealth of Bill Gates has bought a 56% controlling stake in failing PlanetOut Partners, owner of Advocate and Out magazines, Gay.com, and RSVP Cruises. Cascade Investments LLC joined with several other private equity firms in the rescue of PlanetOut stock, more than doubling its stock value from its 52-week low of $0.86. Shortly after PlanetOut’s 2004 IPO, the stock had traded as high as $14.26.
Last week PlanetOut announced that it was selling its adult magazine division, SpecPub, a move now seen as likely made in deference to Gates’ wishes not to be associated with sexual imagery. The disposition of Gay.com, mostly used for sexual hook-ups, in not yet known. PlanetOut has a long history with Gates – in 1995 they launched as a channel on then-fledgling MSN. The partnership failed when Microsoft’s V-Chat was largely ignored by consumers, forcing PlanetOut to launch their own internet presence.