MIAMI — In the final days of 2018, RBR+TVBR reported on the chatter across town about the supposed lack of a suitable buyer for Univision’s Gizmodo Media Group, which was very much on the market.
As Alexandra Steigrad at the New York Post reported, the “the money-losing operator” of such digital news sites and blogs as Jezebel, Deadspin and The Onion were “still struggling to find a buyer” some six months after Hispanic consumer-focused Univision put Gizmodo up for sale.
On Monday (4/8), a deal was finally reached.
“Growth-oriented” private equity firm Great Hill Partners is buying the Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion for an undisclosed price. However, it is known to be an “all equity transaction.”
The combined assets will form a new company named G/O Media Inc. that will be led by digital content industry veteran Jim Spanfeller, who will also be a significant investor in the company. GMG and The Onion will operate as independent assets within the Great Hill Partners portfolio.
The deal means Univision can finally say goodbye to its flirtation with expanding beyond its core business of serving Hispanic consumers through millennial-focused digital platforms focused on such topics as technology (Gizmodo), car culture (Jalopnik), modern women’s interests (Jezebel), sports (Deadspin), life tips and hacks (Lifehacker), gaming (Kotaku), and African American news and culture (The Root).
Then, there is satirical news source The Onion, and a business that includes The A.V. Club and ClickHole.
Spanfeller said, “This opportunity comes at a time when the entire digital media category is beginning to be recognized again for its unique ability to meet the diverse content and delivery needs of consumers and advertisers. As the largest player in our space, G/O Media is in an ideal position to capitalize on this dynamic, and I am excited to collaborate with a great team that boasts an incredible track record to further expand our reach, add value to our advertisers and enrich our visitors’ lives.”
He added that G/O Media is “already the leader among digital media companies speaking to the 10-to-34 year-old market, and we are confident and excited to see that lead expand.”
Spanfeller is a past IAB Chairman and played a key role as CEO in building Forbes.com to market leadership. In December 2016, he sold a “native digital content company” that includes The Daily Meal and The Active Times to Tronc Inc., the former newspaper arm of Tribune.
Great Hill Partners, meanwhile, has invested in such entities over the years as Ziff Davis, funeral announcement giant Legacy.com, Dame Broadcasting, and Palm Beach Broadcasting, a former owner of WRMF-FM, now a Hubbard Broadcasting/West Palm Beach station.
Sidley Austin LLP served as legal advisor to Great Hill Partners. Morgan Stanley & Co. served as financial advisor to Univision in connection with the sale.
Univision, to the surprise of some, grabbed Gizmodo in August 2016 when it obtained the bankrup Gawker Media. It was part of a millennial play to expand beyond Hispanic-focused content driven by former Chief Content Officer Isaac Lee, who departed in mid-July 2018.
Commenting on the sale of Gizmodo and The Onion, Univision CEO Vince Sadusky said, “Today’s announcement is the culmination of a very thorough process, as part of Univision’s broader strategic realignment and return to its core strengths in Hispanic media and marketing. Our aim from the outset of this process was to sell these assets as one, and we are pleased to have found a terrific buyer in Great Hill Partners that is committed to growing these properties. We are grateful to our colleagues at GMG and The Onion for all of their high-quality journalism and achievements as part of our company and we wish them and Great Hill Partners tremendous success.”