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Karlie Kloss Leads Buyout of W Magazine, With Jason Blum Among New Owners

Variety — Todd Spangler

W Magazine, the high-end fashion publication formerly owned by Condé Nast, has a new ownership group — led by supermodel/ influencer/ entrepreneur Karlie Kloss.

On Friday, W Magazine Editor-in-Chief Sara Moonves (daughter of ousted CBS chief Leslie Moonves) announced that she assembled a group of investors led by Kloss to acquire the brand as part of a newly formed joint venture called W Media.

Other investors in W Media include movie producer Jason Blum, founder/CEO of Blumhouse Productions; model Kaia Gerber; racing driver Lewis Hamilton; Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green; Dara Treseder, now head of marketing at Peloton; LionTree’s Aryeh B. Bourkoff; and investment and talent advisory firm Copper.

The new company, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, said W is planning “one aggregate print issue for the remainder of 2020,” which will be its annual “New Originals” issue in the fall. Starting in 2021, W Magazine plans to resume a regular six-times yearly publishing schedule.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The buyout of W Magazine comes after Condé Nast — as part of paring its portfolio to cut costs — in June 2019 sold the fashion title to Future Media, a holding company led by Marc Lotenberg, in a deal widely reported to be worth under $10 million. Lotenberg merged W with Future Media’s Surface and Watch Journal and named Sara Moonves W’s editor-in-chief — the first female EIC in the magazine’s history — with the departure of longtime top editor Stefano Tonchi.

In March 2020, Lotenberg effectively put W Magazine in hibernation mode, with most of the staff furloughed and print editions suspended indefinitely, pinning the blame on the coronavirus outbreak. A rep for Lotenberg said that with the sale of W, Surface Media (and Surface Magazine) separately will continue to cover design, fashion, travel, arts and events.

As part of the formation of W Media, the venture cut a deal with digital-media holding company Bustle Digital Group to operate as a partner “supporting technology, sales and operations for the brand. BDG CEO Bryan Goldberg will serve as managing partner. In 2019, as part of its roll-up play, BDG bought fashion publication Nylon.

The newly formed W Media will focus on expanding W’s footprint “through a forward-thinking approach centered around elevating the next generation of talent in art, entertainment, fashion, media and pop culture,” the company said. That will include expanding W’s editorial offerings through “both preexisting franchises within the W ecosystem and new content initiatives,” such as a contributor network “designed to support diverse voices and more equitable representation in the industry.”

“I am so honored to continue to lead the incredible team at W,” Sara Moonves said in a statement. “Through our amazing editorial and original content, I’m excited to engage our audience in new ways and bring new members into the fold as we expand our global footprint across the ever evolving digital media landscape while upholding W’s legacy as a foremost leader in art, culture and fashion.”

W Magazine was launched in 1972 as a sister pub to WWD (now owned by PMC, publisher of Variety). W became part of Condé Nast after parent Advance Publications bought Fairchild Publications in 1999. PMC in 2014 bought the Fairchild business-to-business fashion group (which did not include W Magazine) from Condé Nast.

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