Ziff-Davis Will Reportedly Buy Mashable for Just $50 Million

Digital outlet's pivot-to-video strategy failed to spark a turnaround

Mashable's reported selling price is just one-fifth of its valuation in March 2016. Facebook: Mashable
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In another sign of how digital media companies are struggling, Mashable will be sold to trade publisher Ziff Davis for around $50 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

That would be only one-fifth of the company’s $250 million valuation during its last investment round in March 2016.

While Mashable had attracted little interest in its efforts this year to locate additional funding, it instead began focusing on a sale, according to the Journal.

The digital media outlet, which was founded in 2005, had seemed to set itself up for a prosperous future in March 2016, when it announced that it would be working with Turner’s TBS and TNT to codevelop and distribute video content and team up on cross-platform ad sales packages. Turner had led that round of funding for Mashable, which received a total of $15 million.

Just one week later, however, Mashable laid off around 30 employees as it became one of the first companies to announce it was pivoting to video in search of more rapid digital advertising growth.

“What our advertisers value most about Mashable is the same thing that our audience values: Our content,” Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore wrote at the time, adding that branded content “has become our fastest growing revenue stream over the past year. Content is now at the core of our ad offering and we plan to double down there.”

According to the Journal, the shift seemed to work at the time—the company increased its revenue 36 percent to $42 million in 2016—but the company still posted a net loss of $10 million. After the company’s CRO Ed Wise abruptly exited in June Mashable’s finances continued to plummet and the outlet will record “a substantial loss” this year.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.