Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion have a new owner — private equity firm Great Hill Partners.
As part of the deal, digital media executive Jim Spanfeller is becoming CEO of (and an investor in) the renamed G/O Media. Spanfeller previously led Forbes.com as CEO and also founded Spanfeller Media Group, the company behind the Daily Meal.
“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. “As the largest player in our space, G/O Media is in an ideal position to capitalize on this dynamic, and I am excited to collaborate with a great team that boasts an incredible track record to further expand our reach, add value to our advertisers and enrich our visitors’ lives.”
According to the announcement, G/O Media Group sites reach around 100 million unique visitors each month. The Gizmodo Media Group includes Deadspin, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker and others, as well as Gizmodo itself. They started as part of Gawker Media, and were acquired by Univision following Gawker’s legal defeat in a lawsuit by Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan), and its subsequent bankruptcy.
The acquisition was part of a larger effort by Univision to a reach an English-language audience — it also acquired its initial stake in The Onion at around the same time. Since then, however, Univision took a write-down on its English-language assets and was reportedly looking to sell them.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported that Great Hill was in talks to acquire the Gizmodo portfolio, now says the firm is expected to pay “much less” than the $135 million that Univision paid in 2016. Great Hill previously worked with Vivek Shah to acquire publisher Ziff Davis, which was then sold to j2 Global.
Meanwhile, the Gawker website was acquired separately by Bustle owner Bryan Goldberg. It has struggled to get off the ground, however, with its writing staff resigning earlier this year.