Why ClickOut Media, a Gambling PR Company, Bought ReadWrite

Last week I learned via an email that my former tech blog business, ReadWrite, had been sold again. The new owner is a company called ClickOut Media, which I had not heard of. Curious, I typed “readwrite.com” into my browser bar for the first time in many months, and was soon dismayed by what I saw. Behold the new “featured content”:

Angered and confused about why my old tech blog is now promoting gambling content, I looked around the RW site to see if I could find further details about ClickOut Media. But there was no mention of that company, nor of any of the people that work for it. So I did a Google search and saw that at one point, ClickOut was mentioned on RW (see below). But for whatever reason it’s now been removed.

Googling Clickout

I then checked out the ClickOut Media website, but there were no names listed on it. The single page of the website was just a bland assortment of stock photos and generic buzzwords: “an industry leading, multi channel marketing company, delivering best in class SEO & Content for esteemed clients all over the world.”

I discovered there is another website at clickout.com, and this one is more direct about what this company does: “As a leading affiliate marketing network in the crypto & iGaming industry, we have the capacity to provide a wide variety of customized offers on CPL, CPA, Revenue Share or Hybrid deals.” Clickout.com also states that its “main office” is “situated in Malta.”

(And don’t worry, I used a nofollow tag on all of the above URLs!)

Neither one of the ClickOut websites names the founders or anyone in the leadership team. So clearly, they don’t want their names associated with ClickOut…or ReadWrite for that matter. I wonder why?

Here’s Who Owns ClickOut Media

After further investigation, I discovered the back story of ClickOut via a LinkedIn post by Rachel Wolcott, a Senior Editor at Thomson Reuters. Wolcott has been investigating a crypto company called Finixio, which she discovered has a connection to ClickOut. According to her Thomson Reuters Accelus Regulatory Intelligence report dated 22 November 2023:

“The owners of a prolific, but non-compliant UK crypto marketing company, also own the Malta entity they said bought their crypto businesses. Adam Grunwerg and Samuel Miranda, both persons with significant control over Finixio, also own ClickOut Media Ltd, a company based in Malta, according to the Malta Business Register.”

Wolcott’s report also suggested that the two founders, Grunwerg and Miranda, are actually located in the UK:

“…the Malta Business Register shows ClickOut is owned by Grunwerg and Miranda through the UK shell companies SBM Holding Group Ltd and ARG Media Ltd.”

Samuel Miranda Adam Grunwerg

After further research, I stumbled upon a report by a French language website called Warning Trading, which describes itself as “a press site run by journalists specializing in financial scams” (or at least, that is the english translation — I used Google Translate). In an article dated August 10, 2023, Warning Trading describes how Grunwerg and Miranda were leaders of a website called Cryptonews.com, which was owned by Finixio.

That name, Cryptonews, rang a bell with me, because I only found out about ReadWrite’s new owners from the following email I received last Thursday:

“Hi Richard

I noticed your professional profile and very interested in potentially bringing you over to Finixio.

It seems your relevant experience could be a great for our Journalist – Tech role, but let me tell you a bit about ClickOut Media first.

Being the largest Tech / Finance / Web3 / Fin-tech / iGaming publishing network in the world, I’m sure you are familiar with us, and may have even found yourself competing with us for keywords from time to time. As a group, we are over 850 people, making £7m+ EBIDTA per month, with over 200 brands / websites worldwide.

Flagship brands worth noting; https://www.techopedia.com, https://www.business2community.com, https://www.cryptonews.com, & https://www.readwrite.com – currently seeing over 5m monthly visits, the roadmap being to become leading authorities in tech, crypto, and finance. We are also looking for great talent to add to our other sites to optimise SEO & Content so they also become big brands.

Our packages are very competitive in our industry.

Would love to discuss in more detail.”

I won’t disclose the name of the person who emailed, because he’s probably a junior ClickOut employee. Also, he clearly did not know I was the founder of ReadWriteWeb. But you can see that Cryptonews, Finixio and ClickOut were all mentioned in his email.

According to Warning Trading, both Adam Grunwerg and Samuel Miranda have extensive experience in the gambling industry (see Miranda’s LinkedIn profile below, thanks to screenshots taken by Warning Trading — and note that I couldn’t find this profile anymore on LinkedIn):

ClickOut founder background

Both men are currently directors of a UK business called Psychic Ventures Ltd, which Samuel described in his LinkedIn profile as a “VC firm investing in tech startups, publishers and media companies.” They were both born in 1989, so they’re 34-35 years old currently.

So Why Did ClickOut Media Buy ReadWrite?

Needless to say, finding out about the background of the new ReadWrite owners did not fill me with confidence (instead, it filled me with revulsion). Given their backgrounds, the motive to buy RW seems obvious: they are using ReadWrite’s brand name, SEO ranking and social media following in order to push their core gambling content.

Here’s an example of the new gambling content now being published to ReadWrite:

Casino content

The “Play Now” buttons (and there are a bunch of them on this webpage) take you to a variety of online casinos.

One thing that caught my eye here: the “why trust us” badge, with a RW logo. If you hover over the button, you see this text:

“We uphold a strict editorial policy that focuses on factual accuracy, relevance, and impartiality. Our content, created by leading industry experts, is meticulously reviewed by a team of seasoned editors to ensure compliance with the highest standards in reporting and publishing.”

Apparently this page was “fact checked” by a “Casino Specialist”:

casino expert

I don’t want to focus on the writers though, because clearly they are young and just doing their job. What’s more important here is why Adam Grunwerg and Samuel Miranda decided to buy ReadWrite. Why do they want to put their noxious gambling and crypto content on ReadWrite, a 21-year old tech news and analysis site? To explain that, I need to briefly tell you about ReadWrite’s backstory.

I founded the site as ReadWriteWeb in April 2003, built it into one of the top 10 blogs in the world and a thriving small business employing about 20 people, and sold the business in December 2011 to a reputable US company called SAY Media. I continued as Editor-in-Chief of RWW for SAY Media, until I left the site in October 2012. That was the point when the site became known as ReadWrite — the “web” part was jettisoned by SAY, the domain name changed accordingly, and a guy best known for impersonating Steve Jobs was hired as the new editor.

SAY failed to gain any traction with its vision for ReadWrite, so they sold it to a startup called Wearable World — which soon, annoyingly, changed its name to ReadWrite Labs. That company no longer appears to exist (or at least the ReadWrite Labs website URL now redirects to…you guessed it, a gambling site!). Wearable World’s version of ReadWrite never went anywhere either, and I’m told they on-sold it to an individual named John Rampton (whose LinkedIn profile reads, “Super Power = Online Growth | $1,000,000,000+ in Online Sales | Want to build your unicorn with me?”). I don’t know Rampton, but somehow we are connected on X, so I have messaged him there to confirm whether he did in fact own RW. He has yet to respond. In any case, the next owner of ReadWrite — and the current one — is ClickOut Media.

So that’s the chain of ownership changes. Me -> SAY Media -> Wearable World -> Rampton? -> ClickOut Media. This is all to say: I long since lost control over RWW and have had no dealings with it for many years. However, in one respect I only have myself to blame for ReadWrite’s demise into gambling content. Here’s why:

When I sold RWW at the end of 2011, I greatly undervalued two key elements of my tech blog business. One, its excellent search ranking in Google; and two, the value of its social media audience, particularly the over 1 million followers @RWW had (and still has) on Twitter. I mention those two things because it’s very clear that SEO and social media clout underpin ClickOut’s strategy for RW, and the other brands it owns. The media kit page on ReadWrite still boasts of these things today:


RW social media

Now, that media kit page was likely created by one of the previous owners, since the SERP image is dated August 2022 and the Twitter followers is out-of-date (it’s now 1.4m followers). But the point is: this is why ClickOut wanted ReadWrite. The SEO ranking and social media following, not to mention ReadWrite’s reputation — especially in its first decade — is the perfect vehicle for ClickOut to funnel its gambling content and promotions.

Is My Own Reputation Being Damaged?

More shockingly, for me at least, ClickOut also appears to be using my personal reputation as one of the selling points in what it offers — which, as I’ve explained, is basically gambling content and associated affiliate links. Take a look at this wording on the new About page, under the sub-header “The Journey of ReadWrite”:

“Founded by Richard MacManus, a New Zealand-based entrepreneur, as a blog, Readwrite rapidly gained prominence, ranking among the top 100 blogs worldwide in 2010. With a team of writers and editors across continents, ReadWrite has established a strong online presence.”

This reads like it was written by an LLM, partly because it doesn’t get the facts quite right. In fact, RWW was among the top 20 blogs in the world throughout 2010 (it reached a peak of top 10 during 2008). But I don’t want to give ClickOut ideas! What mainly stood out in that opening paragraph of RW’s About page is the use of my name; which I assume is to take advantage of the reputation I built in the first decade of RWW’s existence. The “strong online presence” was built by me, alongside my RWW colleagues at the time. That’s what SAY Media acquired in Dec 2011, and it’s also what ClickOut wants to emphasize in 2024.

RW about page, April 2024

Here’s the next paragraph:

“Since then ReadWrite has been through a variety of iterations and owners but has always remained true to its core mission of delivering quality tech news and analysis that educates our readers.”

That is debatable, to say the least. I give credit to ReadWrite’s editor from 2013-2015, Owen Thomas, who did actually try and keep to that “core mission.” But none of the other iterations of RW after I left, including the one led by Fake Steve Jobs, kept to that mission. Indeed, quality plummeted after Owen left; and as you can see from the “featured content” implemented by ClickOut, it is now bottom-of-the-barrel. But it doesn’t seem to matter, because ClickOut inherited thousands of articles going back 21 years — much of it still ranked highly in Google’s search engine — and over one million social media followers. ClickOut naturally wants to highlight that:

“At ReadWrite, we’ve already produced more than 10,000 articles, which are enjoyed by more than one million monthly readers. So, if you want to join us in our journey and learn more about emerging technologies, you definitely won’t be alone.”

So, in summary, ClickOut is pushing gambling content (including crypto), which I assume is very high value for advertisers in that category. To get eyeballs, it is leveraging an established tech blog brand with a high SEO ranking and over a million social media followers. And it is emphasizing the reputation of RWW in its first decade — we were known for our focus on quality tech news and analysis — to essentially trick Google and social media users into visiting its gambling pages.

Aside: I sent an email to ReadWrite, via the ClickOut employee who emailed me and the email address listed on the RW contact page, requesting they remove my name from the About page. I immediately received a mail delivery failure notice regarding the address listed on readwrite.com.

Is ClickOut Breaking Google’s Latest SEO Rules?

Earlier this year, Google announced changes to its SEO rules. I wonder if ClickOut Media’s takeover of ReadWrite violates the “site reputation abuse” rule in particular:

“Sometimes, websites that have their own great content may also host low-quality content provided by third parties with the goal of capitalizing on the hosting site’s strong reputation. For example, a third party might publish payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefits from the site. Such content ranking highly on Search can confuse or mislead visitors who may have vastly different expectations for the content on a given website.”

ClickOut might argue that it is not technically a “third party,” since it now owns RW. But effectively, it is inserting its own gambling content through an established tech news and analysis site that has no history of covering gambling (and certainly not during the time I ran RWW, which is when it gained its high search ranking).

In any case, it’s clear to me that ClickOut is trying to game Google’s system, by buying an established tech media brand and using it to “launder” its gambling content and promotions. They may well be skirting a grey area of Google’s rules, I don’t know. But I will be lodging a complaint with Google to find out.


I wrote this post because I wanted to shine a light on ClickOut Media, and its founders Adam Grunwerg and Samuel Miranda, and expose their strategy for buying and using ReadWrite. There’s a reason the founders don’t want their names associated with what ClickOut is doing with ReadWrite. To my mind, they are bottom-feeding scum in the web ecosystem, and I am disgusted that they are using the site I founded in this way.

Mostly I’m just sad this is what ReadWriteWeb has turned into. I’m truly sorry to any former staff and readers of RWW back in its heyday, and I hope you unfollow the current version of RW whereever you may still be connected to it.

As for me, all I can do now is to continue telling the story of what ReadWriteWeb used to be, and what it truly was, via the serialization of my Web 2.0 memoir over on Cybercultural. That ReadWriteWeb no longer exists, but at the very least I can keep its memory alive.

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