Oct 21, 2023 - Economy

Scoop: Feminist blogging site Jezebel up for sale

Illustration of a manicured hand holding a phone with a spinning black and white vortex on the screen

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The owner of Jezebel is shopping the trailblazing website to potential buyers, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: G/O Media putting the online women's magazine up for sale highlights the struggles of niche, digital media brands that are suffering from a weak ad market and a fragmented landscape.

Of note: Jezebel was one of the first internet blogging sites to write frankly about issues and topics affecting women.

Details: G/O Media deputy editorial director Lea Goldman has been leading the sales process.

  • Jezebel has spoken with Bustle owner BDG, HollywoodLife owner Factz, and Dear Media, according to sources.
  • The sales pitch focuses on Jezebel as an outlier in G/O Media's male-skewing portfolio of digital media brands. Goldman also has stressed potential future growth areas for the brand such as podcasts, live events or licensing deals, according to a pitch email obtained by Axios.
  • G/O Media declined to comment.

Catch up quick: Launched under Gawker in 2007, the feminist blogging site has struggled under the ownership of G/O Media which operates other digital media brands like Gizmodo, Deadspin and Jalopnik.

  • Private equity firm Great Hill Partners bought G/O Media, previously called Gizmodo Media Group, reportedly for less than $50 million in 2019.
  • Since then, G/O Media has made changes to its overall portfolio. It acquired Quartz in April 2022. It sold Lifehacker to Ziff Davis this past March.
  • Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett quit in August, taking a swipe at a poor work environment when she left, per The Daily Beast.

Between the lines: The overall media industry has been under pressure as ad dollars move away from traditional mediums like magazines and websites and more toward social platforms.

  • Young women, in particular, have turned their attention to platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

The big picture: Jezebel is among the media brands initially geared toward millennial women that have been unable to find their footing as the entire digital publishing industry enters a new era.

  • Refinery29, founded in 2005 and acquired by Vice Media four years ago, has been caught in the messes of its parent company. Vice filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year and later was purchased by a Fortress Investment Group-led syndicate.
  • TheSkimm, founded in 2012, has done rounds of layoffs and cut back on new initiatives. The company has looked for a buyer for years, Axios has reported, but has been unable to secure a deal.
  • BDG, the owner of several women-focused brands like Bustle, The Zoe Report and Elite Daily, considered a blank check merger IPO. But it dropped its SPAC plans and has been in other sales talks.
  • Other women-focused media brands that have shuttered in recent years include Bitch Media, xoJane, Rookie Magazine and Lenny Letter.
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