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FiveThirtyEight creator Nate Silver didn’t just leave the New York Times to join ESPN (and ABC News), he sold his company to them.
On a conference call this afternoon, Silver confirmed that ESPN acquired the FiveThirtyEight name and web domain as part of the deal to have him join the company. Put another way: if Silver leaves ESPN in a few years, FiveThirtyEight will not be going with him, but rather staying with ESPN and ABC.
“Our goal here is to make Nate comfortable and happy that this is his new long-term home, so he doesn’t have to do this every four years,” ESPN president John Skipper said. “We really care about smart, talented individuals who can make a difference, and we think that’s what Nate can do for us.”
Silver had a licensing deal with the Times, letting the newspaper host FiveThirtyEight on his site, but ultimately with Silver retaining the rights to the name and domain. It was expected that his ESPN deal would be structured the same way, so it was surprising that the Disney-owned channel had acquired the brand outright. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.