Laurene Powell Jobs Acquires Majority Stake in the Atlantic

Updated on
  • Her Emerson Collective will eventually take full ownership
  • She’s the latest tech billionaire to invest in publishing

Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective LLC agreed to acquire a majority stake in the Atlantic, the iconic political and cultural magazine that has also become a force in digital publishing.

Powell Jobs, the 53-year-old widow of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, is buying the stake from Atlantic Media Chairman David Bradley, who will remain a minority owner, the publication said Friday. Bradley, 64, will continue to own Atlantic Media’s other brands, including the National Journal, Government Executive and the digital business-focused publication Quartz.

Through Emerson, Powell Jobs has focused on philanthropy, socially conscious investing, and media, including funding for Anonymous Content, a talent-management company behind the films “The Revenant” and “Spotlight,” and Within, a virtual-reality entertainment startup. Her net worth is estimated at $18.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Emerson will probably eventually take full ownership of the Atlantic, along with its related consulting and live-events operations, the magazine said. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Powell Jobs follows others from the tech world who have made forays into the old-guard publishing business, where they’ve had varying degrees of success, with the industry struggling to compete for advertising revenue in the era of Google and Facebook Inc. Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, acquired a majority stake in the New Republic in 2012, then sold it last year after a turbulent run that included cutting production in half. Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million. He’s presided over an era of climbing digital subscriptions and renewed journalistic ambition, competing toe to toe with the New York Times for scoops about the Trump administration.

In a statement, Powell Jobs also hinted she wanted to support strong journalism, saying her goal was to “ensure that the Atlantic continues to fulfill its critical mission at this critical time.”

The Atlantic has a print circulation of 530,000, the magazine said. Its website had 16.5 million online U.S. visitors in June, up 19 percent from a year ago, according to ComScore Inc. Its parent company, Atlantic Media, generates profit “well above $10 million per year,” the magazine said in a statement.

(Updates with print and online circulation in last paragraph.)
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