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W Magazine Sold to Bustle Media Group and Investors Including Kaia Gerber

  • August 14, 2020

Most of the magazine’s employees thought this was a fine idea indeed, and Ms. Moonves began what she described in an interview as a “complicated undertaking” to locate a buyer.

It turned out there were several.

But the biggest partner will remain Bustle Digital Group, whose primary experience is online but was eager to expand into print. Now it has a title that has won numerous awards over the last two decades for photography but that also needs to expand its digital position. Ms. Moonves said W would publish six print issues in the next year. The furloughed staff is back on the job.

The high celebrity quotient of the deal notwithstanding, she doesn’t want the magazine to turn into another experiment in synergy, the way Talk Magazine was in 1999 when Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and Harvey Weinstein started it in collaboration with Hearst. (Talk folded in 2002.) But Ms. Moonves also wouldn’t rule out Ms. Gerber and Ms. Kloss as cover subjects.

“We’ll pick the best people for the magazine,” she said.

Mr. Goldberg is not a universally beloved figure in media. A story about him last year in The Columbia Journalism Review described him as a kind of “digital slumlord” known for “snatching up gutted media properties, bidding low and running them on cheap labor.”

Elizabeth Spiers, the former editor of Gawker and The New York Observer, characterized him in a piece for as a practitioner of “lazy entrepreneurial solipsism.” (When interviewed by Ms. Widdicombe of The New Yorker, he spoke of his intention to make Bustle the “biggest and most powerful women’s publication in the world,” which has not exactly happened.)

But Ms. Moonves sa the possibility of having a consortium of people as an ideal situation in a sharing economy, a way to have “more players at the table.”

“If there was ever a moment to figure out how we do this differently, this is it,” she said.

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