In the past week, news has broken suggesting both that Time Inc. is buying both Jane Pratt’s website xoJane and Zooey Deschanel’s website Hello Giggles.
Last week, AdWeek reported that Time Inc. was “interested in buying Pratt’s two sites to build up its focus on digital-only brands, which already include homes-focused website The Snug and beauty-oriented Mimi,” but noted that these plans were only rumored, as Time Inc. wouldn’t comment. xoJane has been on the market for awhile, after owner Say Media announced it was selling its sites last year. In May, xoJane’s founder Jane Pratt, formerly of Sassy and Jane, said she was close to signing a deal for the site (plus its beauty site xoVain), but no word came of it.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Time Inc. had officially announced they were buying Hello Giggles, which was founded in 2011 by actress Zooey Deschanel along with her friends Sophia Rossi (with whom Deschanel also has a production company) and Molly McAleer “as a place on the Internet to inspire a smile.” The Journal noted that, though Time Inc. wouldn’t say how much the site cost, “one person familiar with the purchase suggested it was in the range of $20 million.”
“By partnering with Time Inc., we hope to promote the work of our amazing contributors on an even bigger platform, to showcase young talent and reach more readers than ever, and to expand the HG community in cool, new, exciting ways,” Hello Giggles wrote on their website. “Under Time Inc., HelloGiggles will continue to stand for the same mission we always have: to bring positive, empowering, smart, funny stories and videos to our readers and to support new female talent and give them a safe place to express themselves across the wilds of the internet.” (xoJane describes themselves similarly: “We are not snarky. We are inclusive and encouraging.”)
Currently, Time Inc.’s offerings for women slant towards the stodgy: their publications include InStyle and Essence, as well as general-interest outlets like People or Entertainment Weekly. By potentially buying xoJane—which targets young women—and definitely buying Hello Giggles—which targets teens—they’re making a big play to stay relevant among younger women who read online, rather than on paper. This is particularly noteworthy given their separation from Time Warner last year. (It’s also interesting to remember that, at first, Tavi Gevinson’s teen website Rookie was going to be guided by Pratt.) Given the recent news that Condé Nast is acquiring Pitchfork, it seems like legacy networks are going full vampire for Halloween and looking for fresh blood.
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