Lonely Planet Melbourne jobs go

Most international travellers are familiar with the Lonely Planet guidebooks series, and some read nothing but.  We in Australia were also rightly proud that it was founded by two Australians in 1972 – Tony and Maureen Wheeler – and has been headquartered in Melbourne ever since.  In October 2007, the company was purchased by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

And this past week, that Melbourne headquarters continuation has been thrown into real uncertainty, with the announcement on May 13th that the online division would be moving to London.  Lonely Planet’s chief executive, Matt Goldberg, reportedly told the Sydney Morning Herald that “the strong Australian dollar” was one reason for the move.  One (anonymous) staff member was quoted as saying that:

The relocation is a surprise, but it was fairly clear there were going to be some fairly savage cuts.  I’ve had the feeling that the BBC has been wanting to move the online publishing side of things to London anyway, and maybe they were just waiting for an excuse.

Just wait for it.  How long will it be before the rest of the headquarters is moved to London?  The high Australian dollar reason seems pretty obscure.  Have you been to London lately and seen how expensive things are there?  And all of this provides resonance of the never-really-gone “bad old days” when British publishers ruled Australia like the fiefdom they have always regarded it as being.  Truly, the BBC – a national broadcaster – is behaving like any commercial publisher.  Watch out, Australia.
And here’s the thing:  If I were the Wheelers back in 2007, would I have also sold my company to the BBC?  Chances are I would have, too.

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