Tina Brown, who sought to reinvent buzzy magazine journalism on the internet in the form of the The Daily Beast, and IAC have agreed to part ways.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, The Daily Beast parent company IAC, owned by media mogul Barry Diller, does not plan to renew Brown's contract when it expires in January. The decision has been made for the two sides to part ways, said the source, but precise details of the separation are still being worked out. According to this source, Brown, who made her name among the power elite as the editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, could end up taking the successful Women in the World conference with her as part of a severance agreement. A second source close to the negotiations said Brown plans to start a new venture called Tina Brown Live Media under which she will have complete editorial and business control.
Brown confirmed her departure in both a meeting with staff and in an email sent to friends and contacts after Buzzfeed broke the news on Wednesday.
"I wanted you to be one of the first to hear my news, which is so very exciting for me," Brown wrote about her venture, which will be devoted to summits, salons and flash debates on the news, to friends and contacts in an email obtained by Buzzfeed. "It's been a hell of a fun ride at the Beast these last five years, working with Barry and that amazing young team of Beasties and seasoned commentators."
Brown said in the email that she will be taking a few colleagues with her and that she plans on building out Women in the World summits in the U.S. and internationally.
As for the future of The Daily Beast website that Brown edits, no decision has been made. Included among the options IAC is considering are a sale, closure, or continuing to operate it under a new editor. According to the source, the latter option would require "looking at the business to see if it can be turned around."
"The financials need to make some sense," this source said.
In July, Brown sent out an internal memo to staff announcing a number of staff changes, including the promotion of Michael Moynihan to editorial director, assisting executive editor John Avlon with the day-to-day newsroom operations. Several sources said that Avlon is well liked and well respected in the newsroom and could very well succeed Brown if IAC continues to operate The Daily Beast.
A representative for IAC declined comment. A representative for The Daily Beast could not immediately be reached.
Word of an impending split between IAC — the conglomerate that owns such businesses as Match.com, Ask, and College Humor — and Brown comes just over a month after the sale of Newsweek's remaining assets to IBT Media. That deal brought an end to the joint venture established in 2010 between The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
A recent Hollywood Reporter story citing Comscore figures said traffic to The Daily Beast increased 15% year over year to 6.06 million unique visitors. That same report cited a Daily Beast representative saying advertising sales are up 22.5% year over year.
Despite the claims of an upward trajectory, IAC sources told BuzzFeed at the time of the Newsweek sale that the combined venture still fell into the unprofitable category, though its losses have been cut significantly.
Update: The second paragraph of this story has been updated to reflect new developments. The post has also been updated to clarify that Brown addressed The Daily Beast staff in a meeting and sent an email to friends and contacts.
(Disclosure: The writer of this post previously worked for The Daily Beast.)