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Media the Atlantic

The Atlantic sold to philanthropic organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs


By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

July 28, 2017 | 4 min read

Emerson Collective, the philanthropic organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, has acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic.

Laurene Powell Jobs' philanthropy organisation to acquire The Atlantic

Laurene Powell Jobs' philanthropy organisation to acquire The Atlantic

The acquisition includes The Atlantic’s flagship magazine, its digital properties, live events business, and consulting services. The price of the deal was not disclosed.

David G Bradley, chairman of parent company Atlantic Media, will continue to hold a minority stake in the business and will run The Atlantic for “at least the next three to five years”, the publisher said.

Atlantic Media includes The Atlantic, Quartz, National Journal Group and Government Executive Media Group.

Michael Finnegan continues in his role as president of Atlantic Media, working closely with Bradley in oversight of the privately held holding company.

Peter Lattman, managing director of media at Emerson Collective, will become vice-chairman of The Atlantic. He will continue in his role at Emerson.

Meanwhile the Atlantic leadership – president Bob Cohn, publisher Hayley Romer, and editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg – will continue to run day-to-day operations of the company.

In a letter to The Atlantic staff today (July 28), Bradley wrote: "Against the odds, The Atlantic is prospering. While I will stay at the helm some years, the most consequential decision of my career now is behind me: who next will take stewardship of this 160-year-old national treasure? To me, the answer, in the form of Laurene, feels incomparably right.”

Bradley has been considering selling The Atlantic for a more than a year, but Powell Jobs was the only prospect he approached, the publisher claims. Bradley acquired the flagship magazine from Mortimer B Zuckerman – owner of New York Daily News and US News & World Report – 18 years ago.

Emerson Collective is an organization which advocates for policies and supports social entrepreneurs and organizations working in education and immigration reform, social justice and conservation through partnerships, grants and investments.

Powell Jobs described the magazine as "one of the country's most important and enduring journalistic institutions", and one which inspires the work at Emerson Collective.

She wrote that the magazine was co-founded 160 years ago by a group of abolitionists "whose mission was to bring about equality for all people; to illuminate and defend the American idea; to celebrate American culture and literature; and to cover our marvelous, and sometimes messy, democratic experiment".

The entrepreneur said that she will work with Bradley to "ensure that The Atlantic continues to fulfill its critical mission at this critical time".

It's not the first time Powell Jobs, who’s estimated worth exceeds $20bn, has made a media investment. She holds a minority stake in Hollywood studio Anonymous Content, owns about 4% of Disney’s stock, as well as supporting non-profit journalism organizations like the Marshall Project and ProPublica.

The acquisition comes at a growth period for the magazine, which this year embarked on a global expansion effort, opening its first overseas bureau in London in May.

Digital readership has grown from 2 million in early 2009 to a monthly average of 33 million unique visitors for the first half of 2017.

The company, which early in Bradley’s ownership recorded losses of more than $10m a year, now generates profits of more than $10m per year.

What's more, a decade ago 85% of the company's revenues came from print advertising and print circulation. Now print accounts for 20% of Atlantic Media’s revenues, with the remaining 80% coming from digital advertising, the AtlanticLive events business and the Atlantic Media Strategies consulting services.

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