PlanetOut Inc.

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PlanetOut, Inc. is a leading global online media company or entertainment company exclusively targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) demographic.

PlanetOut Inc.
SuccessorHere Media
HeadquartersSan 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

Originally founded as an early internet-based media company by Tom Reilly in 1995,[1] 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.[2] 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. In September 1996 PlanetOut launched its services on the web America Online.[3]

By late 1996, PlanetOut was unable to attain the projected $1 million in ad revenue and Rielly was removed as president. In January 1997, Sequoia Capital exited as an investor though America Online remained.[4] Huggett later left the company and Rielly temporarily returned as CEO.[5] Megan Smith was subsequently appointed as CEO and Tom Rielly remained on the Board.

In 2000, PlanetOut Inc. merged with 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, Nasdaq. The 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 and 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.[6]

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.[citation needed] 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,[7] a gay cruise and events company, to competitor Atlantis Events, Inc.[8]

The downfall of Planetout was reported to be mismanagement.[9]

SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES -- Apr 3 -- PlanetOut, a media company running web sites and magazines aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers, has put Expedia in charge of travel booking on its web sites. In the past, a good chunk of PlanetOut's revenue came from travel bookings, although former CEO Lowell Selvin said in late 2004 that two-thirds of the company's money came from matchmaking and dating services and advertising. But the company's online segment has been contributing less to its revenue for each of the last three years. In 2005 it accounted for 87%, in 2006 54%, and in 2007 51%. In February, PlanetOut reported a $51.2m loss for 2007.

In April 2008, PlanetOut released a letter of intent to sell LPI and specialty publications to Regent Releasing, which owns here! Films.[10][11]

As of June 11, 2009, PlanetOut Inc. was acquired by Here Media Inc., in a reverse merger transaction. PlanetOut, Inc. operates as an online media company for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community worldwide. It provides advertising, online subscription, and transaction services through its Web sites comprising and The company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


  1. ^ "PlanetOut Merges With Here Networks". AdWeek. June 18, 2009.
  2. ^ "PlanetOut debuts - new online service targets gay men and lesbians". 1995-08-21.
  3. ^ "Global gay and lesbian Internet resource premieres - PlanetOut opens on the Web and AOL". 1996-09-04.
  4. ^ "PlanetOut plans a reorganization - Sequoia Capital exits as investor - AOL still backer". January 27, 1997. Retrieved January 27, 1997. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ "Reorg rocks PlanetOut". January 29, 1997. Retrieved January 29, 1997. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ "Riverboat Cruises sink PlanetOuts forecast". 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-08.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "PlanetOut (LGBT) can't make it - so it will fake it". BloggingStocks. 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  10. ^ "Letter of Intent". April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  11. ^ Sass, Erik (2008-04-14). "PlanetOut Is Out Of Publishing (And $26 Million)". MediaDailyNews. Archived from the original on 2009-06-09.

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