Combining the upstart Vox Media and New York Magazine’s owner may have been seen as an odd coupling once, but the merger may represent a new model for media companies seeking to succeed in a fast-evolving landscape.
Eight-year old Vox will acquire New York Media, the companies said Wednesday. The deal will bring together one of the most successful online publishing and podcast companies in the U.S. and a more traditional organization whose flagship remains a more than 50-year old print magazine.
Vox boasts some of the country’s most popular websites, including the Verge, Vox, Eater and Curbed. New York Media is best-known as the publisher of New York Magazine, a long-time arbiter of cultural and political trends in the U.S.
The new entity will operate as Vox Media. The companies did not release a purchase price in the all-stock deal. In a press release, they said that they would reach “hundreds of millions of people. Aside from its website, Vox has built a successful podcast operation and has a number of streaming television deals.
Vox CEO Jim Bankoff has pledged to cut no editorial layoffs, and to retain the existing brands of both companies. “This combination puts Vox Media in an unparalleled position to lead the media industry forward by focusing on the highest-quality offerings,” Bankoff said in a press release.
The deal comes as media companies old and new struggle to draw new audiences, and print magazine readership plummets.
In recent weeks, AOL BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Vice Media have cut more than 1,000 jobs. Vox and New York Media are betting that their unique content will enable them to grow and avoid such cuts.
New York Magazine has been among the print strugglers, despite its reputation for producing strong journalism and a circulation of over 400,000. The magazine became a bi-weekly in 2014 to cut costs after publishing every week prior to that. New York Media has branched out in recent years and now owns websites including Vulture, The Cut, Intelligencer, The Strategist, and Grub Street, which cover a range of topics.
- Both companies diversified in recent years into new businesses such as live events, e-commerce, and podcasting to lessen their dependence on online advertising.
- New York Media President Pam Wasserstein will become Vox President and will oversee strategic initiatives and the current New York Media brands, among other things. She will also join Vox’s board of directors. Her late father Wall Street Banker Bruce Wasserstein bought New York magazine in 2003.
- According to the New York Times, New York Media was losing as much as $10 million a year “before a recent upturn.” Vox Media, for its part, reported a “modest profit” last year on $185 million in revenue, according to the paper.
Karma Takeaway: Expect little to stay the same in media, as young, nimble companies flood the internet, competing for readers and ad dollars, enabled by mobile and online technologies that lower barriers to entry. The old guard will increasingly be looked at for their brand strength, perhaps their best asset as readership sinks.