New Gizmodo Media Group owner has 'big plans' for programmatic and e-commerce

Great Hill Partners buys The Onion and the rest of Gizmodo Media Group from Univision

Univision has sold Gizmodo Media Group (GMG) to private-equity firm Great Hill Partners for an undisclosed amount.

James Spanfeller, who served as chief executive officer of Forbes.com for over eight years, has been named chief executive of what will now be called G/O Media. The new company includes GMG's properties including Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezebel, The Onion, and AV Club.

The Spanish-language media company sold GMG, which was struggling for ad dollars, for "much less" than the $135m it paid in a bankruptcy auction to acquire the media group in 2016, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The company has "big plans" to leverage programmatic advertising and drive e-commerce to turn revenue around, a Great Hill spokesperson told The Drum.

The spokesperson also said the firm plans to install a 'freemium' subscription model for G/O Media, where some digital content is free and some is behind a paywall.

"While editorial independence is critically important, there needs to be a healthy and productive partnership with the business side for the company to be truly successful," Spanfeller wrote in a memo to G/O Media staff.

"Without an audience, we have nothing to offer advertisers, e-commerce partners, or subscription efforts. And without the revenue from those sources, we have no way to fund the content and those who create it that attracts that audience in the first place."

This sale marks Univision's exit from English-language digital media.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a very thorough process, as part of Univision’s broader strategic realignment and return to its core strengths in Hispanic media and marketing,” said Vince Sadusky, chief executive officer of Univision.

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