Urbanview Closes, Staff Shifts to Boulevards

City site e-commerce network flourishing

Metro Publishing Co. has closed its Oakland, Calif., alt-weekly Urbanview but has retained the staff, some of whom will be working for Boulevards New Media, a network of 22 e-commerce sites for major cities across the United States, Publisher Dan Pulcrano says. “Many media groups are dropping their lowest performing media properties,” Pulcrano says. “In our case it was bloodless. There were tears but no pink slips.” Metro Publishing’s remaining northern California alternative newsweeklies are Metro Santa Cruz, Metro Silicon Valley in San Jose and North Bay Bohemian in Santa Rosa. Pulcrano says Boulevards, launched in 1995, has expanded rapidly into profitable territory over the past year, with revenues up about 700 percent. Through Boulevard sites a visitor can make hotel, automobile, air and restaurant reservations, for which the company receives a cut. The company is planning to add golf tee times in the near future, Pulcrano says. Urbanview’s staff of five will continue to work in Oakland for the time being, with the status of that office being evaluated in the next 60 days, Pulcrano says. Some may shift to the company’s other newspapers. Metro, an early entrant into electronic publishing, launched its first online company in 1993, and was “one of the first AAN papers to get serious about online media,” he says. In 1995, in a prescient move, the company began purchasing generic domain names for an array of major U.S. cities, such as sanfrancisco.com (see list below). “We have the largest portfolio of major city.com names in the industry,” Pulcrano says. Competition from sites such as Sidewalk and Citysearch stifled some possible growth early on, but as online commerce started building, Boulevards’ sites became popular destinations for Internet users, especially tourists. The sites also rank highly on major search engines. Pulcrano says this new media work has always been high on his list of interests and the sale in 2001 of the community newspaper part of his business to partner David Cohen has allowed him to focus more closely on it. However, he emphasizes that Metro’s remaining three alt-weeklies are not for sale, especially after an announcement last week that Metro had switched from AWN to Ruxton for national advertising sparked rumors of a sale. “I have no intention of selling off the alts,” he says. “The company was not sold; it is not for sale.” In addition to Boulevards New Media and the three alts, Metro Publishing runs Metroactive, a site featuring content from all three newsweeklies. Boulevards city guides: sanfrancisco.com, dallas.com, sanjose.com, seattle.com, sanantonio.com, philadelphia.com, albuquerque.com, denver.com, detroit.com, houston.com, indianapolis.com, london.net, losangeles.com, memphis.com, milwaukee.com, minneapolis.com, nyny.com, oakland.com, raleigh.com, saltlakecity.com, stlouis.com, stpetersburg.com, washingtondc.com