The collection of sites under Gizmodo Media along with The Onion have been sold off to private equity group Great Hill Partners.
Univision, the primarily Spanish language TV company which acquired the sites Deadspin, Jezebel, Lifehacker and the eponymous Gizmodo in 2016 out of Gawker Media’s bankruptcy and separately The Onion, did not disclose the financials of the deal in a statement. But the deal is closing immediately, with Great Hill taking control of the properties already, having formed G/O Media, a combination of Great Hill and The Onion.
Industry chatter over recent months had it that Univision was having trouble garnering interest in the sites, while growing increasingly eager to rid itself of them as it had gone public with a strategy to refocus on its primary audience of Hispanic households. The company earlier this year took a $32 million writedown related to the Gizmodo group just for the fourth quarter, showing its first attempt to appeal to an English language Millennial audience had largely failed.
During the two years that Univision owned the former Gawker sites, which it renamed Gizmodo Group, there were big cuts to budgets and staff, spurring a well reported lengthy takedown by staffers (published before the Gizmodo group was put up for sale) highly critical of the way Univision was operating the sites. Ironically, the article also took aim at Univision’s earlier dealings with private equity, referring to a leveraged buyout by a consortium several years ago and unsuccessful efforts since to go public or sell the entire company outright. The story also noted that “private equity firms typically cash out their investments after a few years.”
Vincent Sadusky, chief executive officer of Univision, said the Univision’s “aim from the outset was to sell these assets as one and we are pleased to have found a terrific buyer.” He added that Great Hill is “committed to growing these properties.”
Great Hill has tapped Jim Spanfeller, founder of an eponymous digital media company with previous stints as a newspaper executive and several years as ceo of Forbes, to lead the new G/O Media.
“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,” Spanfeller said in a statement.
He’s already positioning the new G/O Media as “the largest player in our space” and said the company is “in an ideal position to capitalize on this dynamic.”
But this marks the only real consumer media company in Great Hill’s sizable brand portfolio. There are investments in fancy candy company Sugarfina, sock company Bombas, luxury resale site The RealReal, along with investments in payments platforms and a few healthcare focused companies, but nothing in media to speak of. Previously, the firm had a stake in SheKnows, a collection of blogs purchased last year by Penske Media Corp., owner of WWD.
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