PCMag Parent Ziff Davis Gets Acquired By Great Hill Partners and Vivek Shah

Vivek Shah and Great Hill Partners has partnered to buy out Ziff Davis Media, the parent company of tech publication PCMag.com.  The reason why Ziff Davis sold was because the company is riddled with debt.

“This was a company with a good income statement and a bad balance sheet,” stated Shah in an interview with paidContent.  Shah plans to help Ziff Davis resolve these issues and then invest in database marketing.  Below is a memo that Shah sent out regarding the acquisition.

June 4 memo from Vivek Shah:

I wanted to share the attached press release we’re distributing today announcing the acquisition of Ziff Davis Media and the formation of Ziff Davis, Inc.
As we discussed in our meeting, this is an exciting, new chapter in the rich and storied history of this organization.  While the past few years have been challenging, Ziff Davis is back in growth mode.  And, with our partners at Great Hill, we now have the opportunity to invest in accelerating that growth.

It’s critical, therefore, to maintain the momentum you’ve built coming out of the first five months of this year.  I’ve been impressed with the audience, traffic and revenue growth that the company has delivered.  I have no doubt we can continue to expand as we approach a very important second half of the year.

Over the coming days and weeks, I expect to have the opportunity to meet every one of you and to hear your ideas about how we can build Ziff Davis into the digital media powerhouse we envision.  I am a big believer in transparency and communication so look for regular updates from me and everyone on the management team regarding our strategy, progress and key initiatives.

Finally, I think we all owe Jason Young a huge debt of gratitude for steering this company through some difficult periods and for putting Ziff Davis back on solid footing.  I have known Jason for a number of years and have the utmost respect for him.  I’m grateful that we had a chance to collaborate on this deal and that he’ll be advising me during this transition.  We will, of course, arrange a suitable send-off for him soon.

Let me conclude by saying that I consider it an absolute privilege and honor to be leading this company and look forward to working with all of you.


Ziff Davis Acquired by Digital Media Executive Vivek Shah and Great Hill Partners

Acquisition is First Stage in Building New Digital Media Company

New York, New York – June 4, 2010 – Ziff Davis, one of the nation’s leading technology publishers, has been acquired by former Time Inc. executive Vivek Shah in partnership with Boston-based Great Hill Partners. The acquisition represents the first step in building a new digital media company that specializes in producing and distributing content for consumers making important buying decisions.

Ziff Davis is headquartered in New York and its writers, editors and analysts produce award-winning and respected consumer electronics and technology content on the Web, and on other digital platforms including smart phones, e-readers and tablet devices. The nine Ziff Davis properties being acquired are PCMag.com, ExtremeTech, GearLog, GoodCleanTech, DL.tv, AppScout, CrankyGeeks, Smart Device Central and TechSaver.com, which reach over 7 million users per month.

“This is an unusual opportunity to acquire a recognized category leader with a very deep team of talent that has already fully transitioned to digital,” said Shah, who begins today as CEO of the new Ziff Davis. “Ziff Davis is an incredible foundation off which to build an exciting new digital media company focused on delivering fantastic content to our audience and unprecedented opportunities to marketers.”

Shah, in over 14 years at Time Inc., created one of the company’s most successful digital ventures in CNNMoney.com, the 2nd largest financial site on the Web.  Shah also oversaw some of the company’s other large digital businesses, including Time.com and SI.com, and previously served as the president of Fortune and Money magazines.  An active member of the digital media community, Shah serves on or has served on the boards of TheStreet.com (NSDQ: TSCM), ShareThis and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and on the advisory boards of AdSafe Media and Outbrain.

“This stable of really sound media properties is a fantastic starting point to building a new digital media company,” said Chris Gaffney, Managing Partner of Great Hill Partners.  “Having a talented, experienced digital media pioneer like Vivek made us even more eager to participate.”

One of the most attractive assets of the company is Ziff Davis Labs, the largest and first computer testing lab in the industry, Ziff Davis Labs provides objective, benchmark-based product testing run by industry-leading analysts. For many in the tech industry, ratings from Ziff Davis properties are considered the industry gold-standard. Continuing to deliver and distribute this increasingly valuable and objective source of information to consumers who are “in market” is a key value driver of Ziff Davis.

GCA Savvian Advisors acted as exclusive financial advisor to Ziff Davis on this transaction. Specific financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed.

About Ziff Davis

Ziff Davis is a leading digital media company specializing in the technology market, reaching over 7 million highly engaged in-market buyers and influencers every month. Ziff Davis sites, which feature trusted and comprehensive evaluations of the newest and hottest products, include PCMag.com, ExtremeTech, GearLog, GoodCleanTech, DL.tv, AppScout, CrankyGeeks, Smart Device Central and TechSaver.com.

About Great Hill Partners

Great Hill Partners is an investment firm that manages over $2.7 billion in capital and focuses on investing in growth companies operating in the business and consumer services, media, transaction processing and software industries. Great Hill Equity Partners IV, L.P. and its affiliates target equity investments of $50 million to $150 million. For more information, please visit the Great Hill Partners web site at http://www.greathillpartners.com. [paidContent]

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
Leave a Comment