Barstool Sports Starts Spreading the Acquisition News

By Richard Horgan Comment

To the strains of Frank Sinatra, Barstool Sports “El Presidente” David Portnoy gathered in Times Square with several colleagues for an “emergency press conference.” The fact that he was wearing a tuxedo was a tip off that the announcement did not involve a lawsuit. Sure enough, in short order, Portnoy was explaining that big changes are afoot thanks to his decision to partner with a “big swinging dick at the cracker factory.”

Per Fortune’s Dan Primack (and a Thursday Reddit AMA), the pathway to a deal with The Chernin Group started last summer, when Portnoy asked site contributor Jared Lorenzen to introduce him to the San Francisco-based outfit, headed by Peter Chernin. Six months later, with The Chernin Group holding a 51 percent stake, Portnoy says the idea to consolidate staff in New York was his idea:

“I believe that, in order to take the next step, we should all be working together in the same place,” Portnoy says. “And I had a couple of guys in New York who were more entrenched, with family and stuff, so I’m moving… I love Boston, but it’s a smaller city for the personalities and video and the other stuff we want to incorporate.”

And here’s how Mike Kerns, head of digital and media for The Chernin Group, essentially summed up his decision to pull the investment trigger:

“This is one of the rare digital media companies with engagements analogous only to messaging apps and fantasy sports. The fact that they have that sort of engagement with their audience without any log-in is amazing.”

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