Less Than Zero

Alexander Muse Dishes Up CultureMap's Financial Drama—and Quickly Deletes It

"What is a website that loses more than a million dollars a year worth?"

By Katharine Shilcutt February 17, 2017

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"Distressed" probably also describes CultureMap's investors after reading Alexander Muse's in-depth article detailing his acquisition of the once-failing website.

Less Than Zero: Arguably the better of Bret Easton Ellis's novels on amorality, as well as the assessment of CultureMap's prior value according to previous owner Alexander Muse in a now-deleted article written for Medium and captured for posterity by Houston Reader.

Two years ago, Muse and his Dallas-based firm, ViewMarket, acquired the Houston-based digital publication. Earlier this week, Gow Media announced it was purchasing CultureMap along with two additional ViewMarket-created products: Courtem, a dating app, and RSVP, an online social calendar. Yesterday, Muse took to Twitter to promote an article he'd written for Medium entitled "The Anatomy of a Turnaround."

In the article, Muse detailed how "CultureMap's investors had pumped millions of dollars into the company over the years. The company had been so cash strapped it had been unable to exploit even its most basic assets." Worse, Muse wrote: "The investors assumed it was worth at least as much as they had invested and were asking $10 million. It didn't take long for us to realize that the company, as it sat, was worth less than zero to us." 

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What is a website that loses more than a million dollars a year worth? asked Muse in a now-deleted article on Medium.

It's not difficult to see why Muse took down the Medium post less than 24 hours after publishing it. His tweet directing readers to the article remains, though another controversial Muse tweet from November 2016 has since been deleted, in which he mused (pardon the pun) about the origins of a bigoted flier seen on campus at SMU, once again displaying questionable judgment when posting online: "The racist fliers dropped off at SMU and University of Michigan aren’t from Trump supporters–they’re from Alt-Left/BLM protestors."

"I got scolded for being so forthright," Muse tells Houstonia about the since-deleted Medium article. "The purpose of my startup blog is to share my experiences with other entrepreneurs in the hope that they might be able to extract some value from mistakes. Whenever you have multiple people involved in a deal there are often different opinions on how much should be shared publicly."

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