These days it seems the only way for independent media to stay afloat is to have a benevolent deep-pocketed overlord. And Laurene Powell Jobs may be positioning herself as a new media force to take up this task.
The Financial Times reports that Steve Jobs’s widow’s company, the Emerson Collective, is in talks with BuzzFeed‘s top editor, Ben Smith, about investing in the company’s news division and potentially spinning it out from the company. According to the FT, the talks are at an early stage so it’s unclear whether anything will come of them.
Still, even the thought of it speaks to the fragility of the media space right now. With BuzzFeed recently missing key metrics, which resulted a round of layoffs last year, this news shows a possibility for the company to trim even more fat ahead of its IPO.
BuzzFeed isn’t the first media company Powell Jobs has looked at. Last year, the Emerson Collective took a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine and website. It has also invested in Axios.
As media companies struggle to stay afloat in the wake of digital advertising headwinds, the easiest solution seems to be to find a rich investor who wants a vanity project. Early adopters of this model are First Look Media, which was founded by Pierre Omidyar, and Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of the Washington Post.
The question to follow is: Once these billionaires realize that media doesn’t scale like most Silicon Valley investors would like, what happens next?