Apr 15, 2024 - Business

Barry Diller taps media vets to run The Daily Beast


Ben Sherwood and Joanna Coles. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Barry Diller, the chair of the internet holding company IAC, has tapped two media industry veterans to shake up The Daily Beast and has granted them a stake in the outlet.

Why it matters: The publication, hailed as "one of the fastest-growing news and information sites" in 2015, has since succumbed to the same challenges plaguing the rest of the digital news industry.

Zoom in: Diller hired Ben Sherwood, the former president of Disney's ABC Television Group, and Joanna Coles, the former Hearst Magazines content chief, to run The Daily Beast.

  • Sherwood will be CEO and publisher, and Coles will be the chief creative and content officer.
  • The duo is being granted a minority equity stake in the outlet in addition to their salaried positions, according to a source familiar with the matter. The New York Times said the stake was worth roughly half of the outlet.
  • The Daily Beast's parent, IAC, will remain majority owner.

What they're saying: "These are tough times for digital journalism, but the combined experience, expertise and energy of Ben and Joanna have made me an optimist about their ability to make The Beast an enduring and successful enterprise," said Diller, IAC's chairman, in a statement announcing the deal.

Zoom out: Sherwood and Coles established their brands as corporate titans, but have since moved into new ventures.

  • Sherwood founded and sold a youth sports coaching platform, Mojo Sports, exiting in late 2023.
  • Coles served as CEO of a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) and has also produced television shows.

The intrigue: Diller has been trying to find a buyer or strategic partner to manage The Daily Beast for over a year.

  • He came close to inking a joint venture with The Ankler, a Hollywood-focused media company, last year, but the deal fell apart.

By the numbers: The outlet is not profitable and last year was on track to lose more than eight figures, a person familiar with the company's finances said.

  • Roughly 100 people currently work at The Daily Beast.

Catch up quick: The publication was founded in 2008 by Tina Brown, the award winning writer and former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.

  • It merged with Newsweek magazine in 2010, but then separated from the company when IAC sold Newsweek in 2013.
  • The site covers politics, entertainment and national security.

What to watch: In a statement, Coles said she planned to bring the outlet "back to its rebel roots." The Beast's origin as a "sophisticated tabloid" is even more relevant today, she said.

Editor's note: The story was updated to correct the loss figures attributed to The Daily Beast.

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