Meet IBT Media: The Future of Newsweek
New owner plans to “connect the dots” with the rest of its network.
While IBT Media has carved itself a profitable space in a few niche markets, it hasn’t been a household media name.
That’s changed. The seven-year-old company run by co-founders Etienne Uzac, CEO, and Johnathan Davis, chief content officer, just acquired one of the world’s most recognizable media brands in Newsweek. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
IBT Media runs 10 international properties, with over 200 employees in 10 countries. The company’s websites attract more than 30 million unique monthly visitors.
The group’s eponymous flagship site, the International Business Times, generates about half of that traffic, but IBT Media has been expanding aggressively of late.
Newsweek is the fifth major new venture for the company in 2013 alone. IBT launched three new sites—The Latin Times, HollywoodTake and Medical Daily—and a video portal—Bizu.tv—earlier this year. In addition to Newsweek, a sixth project—an untitled b-to-b technology site—is scheduled to launch in the fall.
The rapid growth is ultimately fueled by the desire to "connect the dots," Uzac and Davis say. Right now, diversifying the business is the smart play, but the pair are conscious that each brand operates within a single ecosystem.
Most of that diversification has been done organically through the launch of new verticals and international editions of the International Business Times, but Newsweek brings new revenue streams without the growing pains. Specifically, IBT was drawn to the growing digital subscriber base.
"We’ve had plans to develop business models such as subscriptions, events, etcetera, but the Newsweek acquisition allows us to bring ready-made, growing business products that we didn’t have before," Uzac says.
While Uzac and Davis are adamant that the company is not merging brands—like Newsweek did with The Daily Beast—company-wide editorial operations stand to benefit. Internationally especially, there are content synergies IBT Media as a whole can take advantage of.
"There’s a lot of opportunity for editorial collaboration," Davis says. "Having people on the ground in a certain market is going to have an advantage for us as a company. I’m not saying that we’re going to merge any of the brands, but having people on the ground, regardless of the brand, is going to help feed back intelligence to the rest of our ecosystem. That’s going to make a huge difference for IBT Media-to get the reporting and man-on-the-ground type of insight to inform the rest of our journalism."
IBT Media isn’t sure how exactly that collaboration will play out at this point.
IAC, owners of Newsweek until the deal closes in the next few days, will continue to manage the property for up to 60 days as it transitions to new ownership. Staffing needs—Newsweek reportedly employs about 20 people—will be evaluated during that time, according to an internal memo from Rhona Murphy, interim CEO of Newsweek/Daily Beast.
Sidney Harman bought the newsweekly from the Washington Post in 2010 for $1 and the assumption of $47 million in debt. Shortly afterward, the audio magnate agreed to merge the company with The Daily Beast, owned and operated by pure-play media conglomerate IAC.