Hearst is in talks with Airbnb to launch a magazine, WWD has learned.
The company is in early discussions with the home- and apartment-renting startup, which recently garnered a valuation of $25.5 billion following its latest funding round. Hearst declined to comment Monday.
Airbnb, which reportedly closed a mammoth round this summer adding $1.5 billion to its coffers, launched a print magazine called Pineapple last November. Since then it has printed just one issue.
The deal with Hearst would likely be a more permanent fixture — something akin to an O, The Oprah Magazine, a source told WWD. Although talks are just bubbling now, they are reportedly taking place because of Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan. Coles has emerged as a sort of dealmaker for Hearst. She is responsible for bringing Snapchat onboard and, according to insiders, has been spending a lot of time with the Silicon Valley set. She’s close with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who moonlights as Cosmo’s careers editor. Late last month, Coles also made a cameo at Twitter’s headquarters, following Jack Dorsey’s return as chief executive officer, and she has been rumored to be working with Instagram on a project.
All this has spurred speculation about Coles’ next move, as the editor’s contract is said to be up next year. The outspoken, sharp-witted Coles isn’t exactly known for keeping her views to herself, but she has largely eschewed the glare of the press this year.
Some inside Hearst Tower believe that Coles is jockeying for a larger strategic role within the company, à la Anna Wintour at Condé Nast, and they have pointed to the editor’s last contract negotiations in which she added the role of editorial director of Seventeen to her quiver. Still, others think that the editor is looking for something outside of magazines, perhaps in entertainment or tech. After all, Coles is already in the process of developing a show for NBC based on life at Cosmopolitan magazine.