Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown will be gone from The Daily Beast when her contract expires in January. Brown will now launch her own media company and taking the Women of the World Summit with her.
Buzzfeed's Peter Lauria, a former Daily Beast employee, was the first to report Brown's departure from The Daily Beast. To hear Lauria tell it, Beast parent company IAC chief Barry Diller made the decision not to renew Brown's contract. The exact specifications of Browns departure are still being worked out. "Negotiations are ongoing," one source told the New York Post's Keith Kelly. Capital New York's Joe Pompeo reports Brown told Daily Beast staff she was leaving in an impromptu meeting Wednesday afternoon. She was going to inform the staff tomorrow, but "Buzzfeed's Peter Lauria apparently scooped her," Pompeo reports.
But according to reports from Politico's Hadas Gold and the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, Brown will launch her own company, Tina Brown Live Media, when she's free from the Daily Beast chains, and she's taking the Women of the World Summit, which last year was attended by Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton, with her. What Tina Brown Live Media will do, exactly, is still a bit of a mystery. So far only the summit and "flash debates" have been reported. (Whatever those are.) Brown will be the top dog in charge, though: "With the new company, Brown will be able to control both the business and editorial sides, something she hasn't been able to do before," Gold reports. Brown was allegedly having lunch at in Chelsea's The Park restaurant Wednesday afternoon while the news of her departure was breaking:
A source sends over this picture of Tina Brown in a Chelsea restaurant right now, yelling into the phone. pic.twitter.com/Ah8mHKo5se— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) September 11, 2013
With Brown's departure looming, Diller may opt to sell The Daily Beast or shut down it down completely, per Lauria:
As for the future of The Daily Beast website that Brown edits, no decision has been made. Included among the options IAC is considering are a sale, closure, or continuing to operate it under a new editor. According to the source, the latter option would require “looking at the business to see if it can be turned around.”
“The financials need to make some sense,” this source said.
The Post's Kelly reports Diller has been shopping the Beast to "his well-heeled media friends" over the summer, but hasn't had any luck with a sale. We know of at least one guy who is interested. It's no secret that The Daily Beast loses money. At the end of August, AdWeek said The Daily Beast was on track to lose $12 million this year in a report that strongly foreshadowed today's news. There was an awful lot of talk about what Tina Brown might do next. (The short answer: no one knows.) But, on the other hand, just a few days ago Brown was trumpeting huge traffic gains for the Beast:
Beast roars into September...posting a 22% YTD traffic increase for August – congrats to all @thedailybeast!— Tina Brown (@TheTinaBeast) September 3, 2013
So things can't be all that bad, right? Well, as AdWeek put it, Diller's "goodwill may be running out." Diller lost a fortune when IAC bought Newsweek, merged it with the Beast, and then sold it off again. He recently admitted that buying the newsweekly was a "mistake." But The Daily Beast won't shut down any time soon. The Beast is budgeted until the end of 2014, at least, Rhona Murphy, The Daily Beast's interim C.E.O., told staff this afternoon.