PlanetOut Inc.

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PlanetOut Inc.
Successor Here Media
Founded 1995
Defunct 2009
Headquarters San Francisco, CA
Key people
Tom Rielly, Founder/CEO
Jon Huggett, CEO
Megan Smith, CEO
Karen Magee, CEO
Lowell Selvin, Chairman
Mark Elderkin, Founder
The Advocate
Out Magazine
Number of employees

PlanetOut Inc. was a public media and entertainment company founded by Tom Rielly in 1995, exclusively targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) demographic. It operated several LGBT-themed web sites, the first being an independent producer Forum on the Microsoft Network (MSN).


Planetout launched in August 1995 on the Microsoft Network; founded by Tom Rielly and a core team of co-founders including their first staff member Darren Nye as MSN Producer and Community Director, Christian Williams as Technical Director, Jenni Olson as Arts & Entertainment Producer (PopcornQ) and Greg Gordon as News Producer.[1] Other co-founders who joined the company soon afterward included David Stazer as Web Producer, Eric Mueller as AOL Producer and Mary Salome as News Producer/PR.

In April 1996, with Tom Rielly as President and Jon Huggett as CEO, PlanetOut Inc. closed its first round of funding, a $3 million minority share investment by Sequoia Capital and America Online. And in September 1996 PlanetOut launched its services on the web at and a site on America Online.[2]

By late 1996, PlanetOut was unable to attain the projected $1 million in ad revenue and Tom Rielly was removed as President. In January 1997, Sequoia Capital exited as an investor though America Online remained.[3] Jon Huggett later left the company and Tom Rielly temporarily returned as CEO.[4] Megan Smith was subsequently appointed as CEO and Tom Rielly remained on the Board.

In 2000, PlanetOut Inc. merged with by their largest competitor, to become PlanetOut Partners, Inc.

On October 14, 2004 PlanetOut went public and became the first gay-directed business to trade its stock on a major United States stock exchange (the Nasdaq). Their initial public stock offering of 4.65 million shares gained 16% on the first day of trading, closing at $10.40. PlanetOut adopted LGBT as its ticker symbol.

In November 2005 PlanetOut Partners acquired LPI Media, the publisher of The Advocate, Out Magazine, HIV Plus, and Alyson Books, becoming the largest LGBT related Media Company, with multiple print magazines and multiple websites on various platforms/services.

PlanetOut also maintained ownership of Specialty Publications, publishers of the three largest gay adult periodicals in the United States including Men, [2], Unzipped, and Freshmen.

In January 2006, PlanetOut agreed to purchase RSVP Vacations, a gay and lesbian tour operator, for $6.5 million.

At the close of the year in 2006, the company reported a $3.7m loss on revenue of $68.6m. Although this was a 93 percent improvement on 2005 revenues, the purchase of RSVP was the beginning of the end for PlanetOut.[5]

A federal filing released in May 2007 for fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2007, showed a $6.9 million loss for the quarter relating to falling revenues and rising costs that destabilized the corporation.

Despite the financial losses, there was still a lot of hope and belief in PlanetOut. In July 2007, PlanetOut closed an additional round of funding, $26 million, from private investors including Bill Gates' investment arm - Cascade Investment LLC, Special Situations Funds, SF Capital Partners, PAR Investment Partners and Allen & Co. The investment came from the sale of roughly 22.8 million shares of common stock to the investors.

In October 2007 PlanetOut announced the impending sale of its RSVP Vacations,[6] a gay cruise and events company, to competitor Atlantis Events, Inc.[7]

The downfall of Planetout has been reported as mismanagement.[8]

In April 2008, PlanetOut released a letter of intent to sell LPI and Specialty Publications to Regent Releasing, which owns here! Films.[9][10]

In January 2009, PlanetOut Inc. announced plans to merge with Here Networks LLC and Regent Entertainment Media, Inc.; PlanetOut was acquired by Here Media Inc. and has ceased operations. The website is now defunct, but going to website defaults to the webpage, CEO of Here Media.[11]


  1. ^ "PlanetOut debuts - new online service targets gay men and lesbians". 1995-08-21. 
  2. ^ "Global gay and lesbian Internet resource premieres - PlanetOut opens on the Web and AOL". 1996-09-04. 
  3. ^ "PlanetOut plans a reorganization - Sequoia Capital exits as investor - AOL still backer". 1997-01-27. Retrieved 1997-01-27.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Reorg rocks PlanetOut". 1997-01-29. Retrieved 1997-01-29.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "Riverboat Cruises sink PlanetOuts forecast". 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "PlanetOut (LGBT) can't make it - so it will fake it". BloggingStocks. 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  9. ^ "Letter of Intent". April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  10. ^ Sass, Erik (2008-04-14). "PlanetOut Is Out Of Publishing (And $26 Million)". MediaDailyNews. 
  11. ^ Brown, Steven E.F. (2009-01-09). "Sun sets on PlanetOut". San Francisco Business Times. 

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