The New York Times Co. has acquired gadget and gear blogs The Wirecutter and The Sweethome in an all-cash deal that closes Oct. 24. The Times did not disclose how much it paid for the properties.
The properties, which serve as product recommendation sites, were founded in 2011 by technology journalist Brian Lam, a former editor at Gizmodo and Wired. Lam will stay on in an advisory role, while Jacqui Cheng, editor in chief, and Christopher Mascari, product director, will remain in their roles. Ben French, vice president of NYT Beta, will serve as interim general manager and will work to integrate The Wirecutter and The Sweethome into The Times Company.
According to The Times, both blogs bring in revenue primarily through affiliate links, meaning they earn money by offering direct links to retailers in exchange for a share of the sale. Retailers span from Amazon to smaller, niche shops.
Publishers have found some success in affiliate marketing. Under Nick Denton, Gawker Media, which included Gizmodo, was able to reap over one-third of its revenue from affiliate commerce, or about $10 million, according to reports. The business strategy isn’t nearly as lucrative as more direct methods of e-commerce, but it also carries much lower risk than holding inventory, for instance.
“We’re very excited about this acquisition on two fronts. It’s an impressively run business with a very attractive revenue model and its success is built on the foundation of great, rigorously reported service journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of The Times.
Thompson noted that this isn’t the paper’s first foray into commerce. Earlier this year, the company launched a delivery service, in which it sold meal kits from its cooking vertical, for instance.
“The New York Times is the definitive source for news, information and entertainment and now we’re working on becoming an authoritative destination for service journalism, with verticals like Cooking, Watching and Well,” the ceo said. “The practical approach that The Wirecutter and The Sweethome take to product recommendations embodies the same standards and values that are the pillars of our own newsroom. Their service-focused guides align with our commitment to creating products that are an indispensable part of our readers’s lives.”
Lam added: “The New York Times is the perfect home for The Wirecutter because of our shared love and commitment to reader service and public good through rigorous reporting. And most important, we’re thrilled to have the chance to help Times readers find great gear that can improve their lives.”