Ziff Davis Sold to J2 Global

Tech-oriented publisher joins stable of business-oriented services

Ziff Davis valuation is way up in the clouds.

The tech-centric publisher has been sold to j2 Global, Inc., a business cloud services company, for $167 million, the companies announced today. The cash purchase is expected to yield j2 $60 million in 2013 revenues, said officials.

Formerly a print powerhouse, Ziff Davis had reinvented itself in recent years as a digital publisher/e-commerce-oriented brand. As recently as 2008, Ziff still published PC Magazine in print. But after shutting down that magazine, Ziff found itself buried under heavy debt. In 2010, former Time Inc. executive Vivek Shah, with help from investment firm Great Hill Partners, purchased Ziff Davis for an undisclosed amount.

Ziff is still focused on publishing; the company’s assets include PCMag.com, ComputerShopper, ExtremeTech, Toolbox.com and Geek.com. But CEO Shah has looked to reorient the company into a publisher that helps advertisers connect with customers, and preferably sell products.

During Shah's tenure, Ziff rolled out BuyerBase, a tech targeting audience network, while acquiring the shopping site LogicBuy and the IT-driven lead generation company Focus Research.

J2 said it plans to continue to operate Ziff Davis as a stand-alone company. The firm is not a stranger to the ad world. J2 currently sells and manages digital advertising via services like eFax Free and Campaigner. This acquisition brings scale to this effort with a top leadership team deeply committed to building the business through organic growth, said Hemi Zucker, j2’s chief executive officer.