The Media Companies That Changed Ownership in 2018

Time, Gawker.com and Women's Health all have new owners

A number of well-known media outlets ended 2018 with different owners than they started the year with.
Source: Getty Images

It’s been a year of acquisitions, sales and mergers.

We head into this year with some companies still exploring selling a number of titles, or having actually put some brands up for sale, including Sports Illustrated, Money, Brides, W and Golf Digest.

Here are some of the print and digital brands that found new owners this year:

Rodale

Hearst finalized its Rodale Inc. acquisition at the beginning of this year, and took on a handful of brands including Bicycling, Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Prevention. Under the new ownership, Men’s Health and Women’s Health won hottest men’s and women’s magazine, respectively, under Adweek’s 2018 Hot List.

Time

After acquiring Time Inc., Meredith sold the namesake title to chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, for $190 million in cash. The deal, finalized last month, was a personal purchase and not related to Marc Benioff’s role at Salesforce, the couple has said. The Benioffs have also said they won’t have a hand in the daily operations of the title, and Edward Felsenthal has stayed on as editor in chief.

Meredith has agreed to continue running certain operations for the brand, including paper purchasing and consumer marketing.

Fortune

Meredith also said last month that it intends to sell another of the Time Inc. brands to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150 million in cash. Meredith described Jiaravanon’s acquisition as a “personal private investment,” and he intends to invest in Fortune’s digital capabilities and international expansion. Alan Murray, chief content officer of Time Inc., will become CEO and president of Fortune and Clifton Leaf will stay on as the brand’s editor in chief.

Mental Floss

Minute Media, a publishing and technology company, acquired media company Mental Floss in February. Minute Media acquired the company from the estate of the late Felix Dennis, a British magazine publisher who purchased the-then bimonthly trivia magazine in 2011 for a reported seven figures. Proceeds of the sale went to Heart of England Forest, a charity which Dennis established.

Mic

Bustle Digital Group purchased the bare bones media company after Mic laid off most of its employees. The Wall Street Journal estimated the deal to be worth $5 million, a significant discount on what Mic was valued at just a couple years ago. It’s unclear what Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group intends to do with the website, custom CMS and remaining employees, mostly those in product development.

“When we relaunch Mic, the team will get a fresh chance to do their best work. And they will do so with the full support of the technology, marketing, finance, and operations teams that we already have in place at Bustle Digital Group,” Goldberg said in an email to current BDG employees at the time of the sale. “This is the correct model for 2019 and beyond. It takes tremendous cost burden off of each individual media property and opens up much needed budget for editorial talent.”

Gawker.com

Goldberg also, through a holding company, purchased Gawker.com and its remaining assets, in a bankruptcy auction in July. The deal was reportedly worth less than $1.5 million. The site is expected to relaunch in early 2019, with Amanda Hale, previously of Talking Points Memo and, most recently, Outline, serving as publisher.

“We won’t recreate Gawker exactly as it was, but we will build upon Gawker’s legacy and triumphs—and learn from its missteps,” Goldberg said in an email to BDG staffers at the time of the sale. “In so doing, we aim to create something new, vibrant, highly relevant, and worth visiting daily.”

Note: The author of this post previously worked at Talking Points Memo at the same time as Hale.

Check back in Thursday to read about the magazine titles that reduced their print frequency—or folded the print product altogether.

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