Apr 25, 2024 - Business

The Onion is sold to new firm known as Global Tetrahedron

Illustration of a person holding money that is styled like a newspaper

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Onion's owner said on Thursday that the satirical news site has been sold to a new Chicago-based firm created by four digital media veterans who are fans of the publication.

Why it matters: G/O Media, which owned The Onion, has been unraveling its portfolio of digital media sites amid pressures of the digital ad market.

Zoom in: In a staff memo, G/O CEO Jim Spanfeller said the new owners, a firm known as Global Tetrahedron, have "a profound love for The Onion and comedy based content." He said the entire staff will stay on, and the company will remain in Chicago.

  • The acquirer's name matches the name The Onion has used for a fictional corporation in past articles and its humor book, "Our Dumb Century."
  • The four media veterans behind Global Tetrahedron are: former Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson; former NBC News reporter Ben Collins; former TikTok executive Leila Brillson; and former Tumblr executive Danielle Strle.
  • Most of Global Tetrahedron's money comes from Lawson. Collins will serve as CEO. Brillson will be chief marketing officer and Strle will be chief product officer.
  • "The Onion for over 35 years has been an indispensable part of our country's cultural fabric with its unique brand of satire and comedy that continues to be just as important and relevant today than at any time during its storied history," G/O's Spanfeller said in the memo.
  • Terms of the sale also were not disclosed.

Zoom out: G/O, which is owned by private equity firm Great Hill Partners, has parted with many brands in its once wide-reaching digital portfolio.

  • Last year, it sold lifestyle website Lifehacker to Ziff Davis. Paste Media has acquired feminist-focused brand Jezebel, political news site Splinter and pop culture site The A.V. Club. G/O sold Deadspin to Lineup Publishing and The Takeout to Static Media.
  • Spanfeller said in Thursday's memo that the company is "coring down to our leading sites in terms of audience and revenues" to "sharpen our focus." Its remaining sites are Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Kotaku, The Root, The Inventory and Quartz.
  • In a Thursday press release, G/O touted traffic gains for Quartz, claiming the business news site posted its highest traffic since G/O bought it in May 2022.

The intrigue: According to business filings, Global Tetrahedron LLC was registered in Illinois on April 16 and is managed by San Francisco-based firm Lawson Revocable Trust. Lawson is a trustee of the firm, per a Twilio SEC filing.

  • Lawson did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include additional details.

Go deeper: G/O Media agrees to sell The A.V. Club and The Takeout

Go deeper