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Daily Beast to Be Led by Ben Sherwood, Joanna Coles in Deal With IAC

Ben Sherwood and Joanna Coles inked a deal to lead IAC’s The Daily Beast, under which the media veterans are acquiring a minority stake in the news and opinion site.

Effective immediately, Sherwood — one-time president of the Disney ABC Television Group — will serve as The Daily Beast’s publisher and CEO. Coles, previously Hearst Magazines’ chief content officer, is the site’s chief creative and content officer. The duo will “share a substantial interest in the company,” IAC said, but specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sherwood and Coles will own about half the equity in The Daily Beast, while IAC will retain majority ownership control, the New York Times reported. The deal comes after former Daily Beast CEO Heather Dietrick exited the company the end of 2023 to join Outside Interactive as chief media officer.

“These are tough times for digital journalism, but the combined experience, expertise and energy of Ben and Joanna have made me an optimist about their ability to make The Beast an enduring and successful enterprise,” said Barry Diller, chairman and senior executive of IAC.

Last year, Diller explored a deal that would have merged the Daily Beast with Ankler Media, a startup co-founded by Janice Min, a former top editor at the Hollywood Reporter and Us Weekly. However, by midyear, Diller had decided to abandon that deal, per a report by the New York Times.

After the Daily Beast was launched in 2008 by founding editor Tina Brown, IAC became 50% owner of the merged Newsweek Daily Beast Co. IAC then bought a controlling stake in the venture before selling Newsweek to IBT Media in 2013.

Sherwood had left Disney in 2019 to start youth sports technology startup Mojo, which was sold to TeamSnap in December 2023. He had served as co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney ABC Television Group, overseeing the company’s global entertainment, news and cable properties. Sherwood also had been president of ABC News, executive producer of “Good Morning America” and senior broadcast producer of NBC Nightly News.

In a statement, Sherwood said, “Timing is everything, and the current media hellstorm feels like the ideal moment to jump back into journalism. Yes, everything feels upside down right now with busted business models and transformative technology. With so much disruption — or maybe because of it — we believe this is the ideal entrepreneurial opportunity to deliver on The Beast’s insurgent promise. We are excited to work with the dynamic team at The Beast, cultivate and recruit great talent, and help unleash its populist potential.”

Coles, after launching her news career on Fleet Street in London, moved to the U.S. as The Guardian’s New York bureau chief. She spent 10 years as editor-in-chief of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan before serving as chief content officer for Hearst Magazines, overseeing 300 titles globally. Coles also executive produced TV series “The Bold Type.” She serves on the boards of Snap and Sonos as well as the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation.

“Tina Brown’s original vision of The Beast as a sophisticated tabloid is even more relevant today,” said Coles in a statement. “Our pirate mission is to cover the stories and people that grab us and have fun along the way… We’re bringing The Beast back to its rebel roots and will build on its beloved DNA to make it even beastier.”

Whisper Advisors’ Jason Rapp represented IAC in the deal with Sherwood and Coles.

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