Chowhound Parent CNET Sold to CBS

Had you been taking bets, circa 2000, which foodie Website would eventually be owned by CBS, only a Nostradamus (or rather, a Gastrodamus) would have picked Chowhound, a bare-bones, unmediated bulletin board where people compared notes about shawarma. But yesterday CBS bought Chowhound’s parent CNET for $1.88 billion. On the Chowhound board, owner Jim Leff spoke out on the subject, playing both the corporate strategist (“we need more international penetration”) and also the insular Internet food geek (“What we don’t need, however, is a broader slice of diners participating. A real flood of unsavvy diners could dilute the knowledge level”). The truth is that Chowhound has never been the same since it was absorbed by CNET’s Chow property in 2006, and not just because of its notoriously difficult navigation and search issues. There are still great Chowhound posters and Chowhound threads — if we wanted to find the best new Taiwanese oyster pancakes in Flushing, it would still be our first stop. But the site is already so diffuse and depersonalized that big media ownership may actually help — or at least, not make it any worse.

CBS in $1.8B deal for online news, info site CNet [SF Gate via Eater SF]