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The Daily Beast fails to find a buyer
Plus, NYT Cooking is encouraging people to test its recipes by texting
Early this year, the tech & media holding company IAC began exploring a potential sale of The Daily Beast. Last week, we learned that the site is no longer for sale, after a potential joint venture fell through with entertainment news startup The Ankler.
As a journalistic experiment, The Daily Beast has largely succeeded. In its fifteen years, the site broke consequential stories, won awards, and helped launch the careers of numerous writers. It also developed and refined one of the most valuable things in digital media: a unique sensibility. This sensibility, a mix of investigative rigor and tabloid flare, made the site a compelling and, at times, definitive read on politics and culture.
But as a business, the story is murkier. The internet has not been kind to general interest publications, few of which achieved the audience scale for a sustainable ad business or the audience loyalty for a subscription business. Private ownership has so far shielded The Daily Beast from the worst outcomes, but the path to significant profits is likely a difficult one.
So it’s not surprising that IAC couldn’t find a buyer. It also makes sense that a partnership with The Ankler didn’t materialize.
Launched as a Hollywood-focused newsletter in 2017, The Ankler now counts about ten employees, $1.5 million in seed funding, and expected revenues this year in the mid-seven figures. It’s a textbook example of the “lean & niche” playbook.
From IAC’s perspective, you can see the appeal. A joint venture would’ve enabled the site to live on, likely with new leadership and renewed growth aspirations. But for The Ankler, the deal would’ve muddled their playbook, saddling the team with significant costs and a shaky business model.
Now, The Daily Beast enters an uncertain new chapter, as it attempts to evolve a model built for an earlier era of digital media. To date, IAC and its chairman Barry Diller have been generous stewards. But the failure to find a deal will test their patience.
Here’s today’s case study:
NYT Cooking is encouraging people to test its recipes by texting. Here’s how it works:
People who text a fruit or vegetable emoji to “361-COOK-NYT” will receive a free recipe featuring that emoji from a pool of popular, easy-to-make options.
To drive awareness, The Times is promoting the emoji text feature with billboards in states like Michigan and Washington, as well as events and social media.
The effort is part of a broader “easy to find, easy to make” strategy, which aims to convert new subscribers by making NYT Cooking recipes simpler and more widely available.
And here’s the latest news in digital media:
Vice is likely to sell for $350 million. A group of buyers led by Fortress Investment Group is expected to acquire the company out of bankruptcy, after the $350 million offer was approved last week. An existing lender to Vice, Fortress had been in prime position to take over the company.
Meta plans to block news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada. The move comes in response to the passage of Canadian legislation requiring that platforms pay news publishers for their content. Google, which would also be impacted by the new law, has signaled that they may implement similar restrictions in the country.
More on publishers:
The Weather Channel partnered with the Google News Initiative to add storm-tracking cameras around the country.
Cheddar News laid off about a dozen employees.
The literary magazine BookForum is relaunching with The Nation as its publishing partner.
72% of local journalists have considered leaving their job, with burnout as a significant factor.
More on platforms:
Several Russian ISPs blocked Google News as a Russian paramilitary group staged a coup.
Google is rolling out its Perspectives feature in Search to highlight content “people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites and social media platforms.”
TikTok’s COO Vanessa Papas quit after five years with the company.
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