IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) Chairman Barry Diller is considering selling the Daily Beast following the departure of Tina Brown, who helped start the news website in 2008, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Brown, who served as the Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief, had explored the idea of a sale with Diller before announcing her departure yesterday, said the person, who asked not to be named because the deliberations are private. The company hasn’t made any formal moves to shop around the business, the person said.
Brown is now leaving the site to start a new venture, Tina Brown Live Media, which will build on her Women in the World conferences. Her exit leaves the Daily Beast without its best-known voice and follows a failed effort to integrate the site with Newsweek magazine. IAC agreed to sell Newsweek to IBT Media last month for an undisclosed sum, raising speculation that the company would offload the Daily Beast as well.
“We’re always looking at the best options for all of our businesses,” said Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for New York-based IAC.
Shares of IAC, an Internet holding company that includes Ask.com and Match.com, were little changed at $53.15 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 13 percent this year.
Brown, a former editor of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, started the Daily Beast with Diller five years ago, aiming to create a source of breaking news and commentary for the Internet era. IAC then purchased Newsweek as part of an agreement with the late Sidney Harman in November 2010 and combined it with the Daily Beast. The company forged the deal to sell it to IBT Media after struggling to make the magazine profitable.
Brown, 59, is now negotiating her exit package from the Daily Beast, said the person with knowledge of the matter. John Avlon, executive editor of the Daily Beast, is likely to replace Brown as editor-in-chief, the person said.
Brown told Diller about a month ago that she didn’t plan on continuing in her role through 2014, the person said. Their relationship remains friendly, according to the person.
In her next venture, Brown is seeking both business and editorial control of the operations, said a separate person with knowledge of her plans. The Daily Beast’s events team led by Kathy O’Hearn will also join Tina Brown Live Media, according to a statement yesterday.
The business will focus on the Women in the World summit, which Brown started in 2010. The event, which has featured appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie, will continue a partnership with the Daily Beast through next year’s summit.
“Creating the Daily Beast at the original instigation of Barry Diller in 2008 has given me some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my professional life,” Brown said in the statement. “I am enormously proud of what our brilliant editorial team has achieved at the Beast. And I am proud, too, of what we did with Newsweek in the battle we waged to save it from the overwhelming forces of media change.”
After announcing plans to sell Newsweek earlier this year, Diller said that publishing a weekly magazine at a time when news has become instantaneous was a “fool’s errand.”
“I wish I hadn’t bought Newsweek,” the 71-year-old billionaire told Bloomberg Television in an interview in April.
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