Demand’s Rosenblatt On Google’s Search Changes

Among the questions I got most often at the just-concluded DLD conference in Munich: What about Demand Media’s future following Google’s public stance on cleaning up its search results? Will it hurt the company’s IPO? My take: depending on Google’s approach, yes, it could hurt but it also could make Demand Media (NYSE: DMD) content that still shows up high in search results seem more valuable — and, as we saw yesterday when the stock immediately popped for the IPO, it isn’t hurting the stock price in the short term. (Although, you do have to wonder if the shares could have closed even higher than $22.65 without that pre-IPO news.)

With his own stock worth more than $88 million (today at least) and options that could be worth much more, how does CEO Richard Rosenblatt pitch it?

Rosenblatt insisted to MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka that the changes not only aren’t aimed at Demand, the shifts Google engineer Matt Cutts wrote about so far have helped the company by going after scrapers and spammers: “He’s talking about duplicate, non-original content. Every single piece of ours is original. Written by somebody. And I understand how that could confuse some people, because of that stupid “content farm” label, which we got tagged with.” More from the interview.

But the Google overhang continues: Demand’s content revenues rely heavily on Google (NSDQ: GOOG). As the company admitted repeatedly in its SEC filings, Google has the power to disrupt that business. Investors knew that going in; anyone who sticks past the initial IPO boost will have to live with it.

Will Demand sustain its current stock high? Probably not. The stock opened down slightly but it’s early in the day — and early days.