Is there already a “vulture fund” that will reboot failed old media brands for the iPad?

I’m not yet sure what to make of the iPad, and have been asking my journalist, developer, marketer and investor friends what they think of the device to try to get my head wrapped around it. The thesis that keeps popping into my head looks something like this:

  • The iPad is designed to be the world’s best media consumption device… 
    • Most people I talk to don’t view it as a mobile device at all.
    • The consensus is that most people will buy the WiFi only version and leave it on their coffee table as an alternative to reading magazines or watching TV.
  • …but most of the currently-dominant media factories will fail to create relevant experiences for this medium…
    • The iPad excels at “internet-like” non-linear media – with tight integration of video, audio, community participation and 3rd-party sources.
    • Traditional media companies + brands (think Conde Nast, News Corp, etc.) don’t have the content production or software talent needed to pull these off well.
    • …leaving room for upstart media brands to take the lead…
      • Across the digital media spectrum there are blogs, aggregators, and community sites that have the core skills required to manufacture compelling content for the iPad.
      • Most of these firms also have lean cost structures, so they can act aggressively to grab share even before the paid content / subscription models for the device have stabilized.
      • …so instead of “saving” old media by providing a paid-content lifeline to a digital future, the iPad will more likely accelerate their demise.
        • If consumers take to the iPad and “touch tablets” become a major new mode of media consumption, media companies that lack the skills, cost models and agility to delight consumers in this medium will fail even faster than they are now.
      When Conde Nast finally recognized the need to shed costs last year, its solution was to start shutting down titles. Because they were no longer sustainable as print vehicles (and CN doesn’t have the skills or structure to operate anything else) venerable brands like Gourmet and Modern Bride – with decades of archived content and established audiences, were simply put to bed. This won’t be the last time this happens, and it will happen even faster if the iPad lives up to the hype.
      So has anyone created a fund dedicated to scooping up failed “old media” brands and content on the cheap and rebooting them for the digital age? It would have to be a relatively high-concept approach – the assets will cost real money, and the even in distress the sellers will likely be too proud to let them go to a landing page factory like Demand Media – but a careful buyer with an aggressive and agile team of digital media pros behind her could unlock the value in these assets and build a big new company on the way. The key is to pry the current owners’ cold dead fingers off them before their loyal audiences and accumulated links are too far gone to save…