Online news pioneer ‘Salon’ is sold for an undisclosed sum (exclusive)

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Salon, the left-leaning news and opinion website, is being sold to a team of French entrepreneurs behind the two-year-old Malta-based media company, Find.co, sources involved in the deal tell Fast Company.

Salon was founded and staffed in 1995 by former San Francisco Examiner journalists as one of the early digital magazines. Known for its dispensations of news and opinion through a politically progressive (and often tabloid-y) lens, Salon was valued at $107 million when it went public in 1999. It was nearing bankruptcy two decades on, when entrepreneurs Chris Richmond and Drew Schoentrup bought it, in 2019, for $5 million. Nobody was laid off from the newsroom under Richmond and Schoentrup’s tenure; instead, third-party vendors and superfluous services were pared back to a minimum. Richmond and Schoentrup, who also own the fact-checking site Snopes as well as the wiki TV Tropes, say Salon has been profitable for the past three years.

Find.co’s founder and majority stakeholder Mendel Benoit and his business partner, Jonathan Amsellem—a duo whose portfolio already includes CCN.com, Webopedia, and Cryptomaniaks—reached out to Richmond and Schoentrup this spring with a wish to acquire the indie heritage outlet, according to multiple sources involved in the deal.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Richmond and Schoentrup say that while the sale was not a “major windfall,” they were happy to hand over the outlet to a team that seems intent on nurturing it. “They’re kind of like how we were: motivated entrepreneurs getting into the media space,” Richmond adds.  

During the transition of ownership, Schoentrup, who has been serving as Salon’s CEO, will continue in that role for the next six months, and Richmond will continue as an advisor for a year.

Salon saw 73 million page views in October, per Google Analytics, a figure that includes page views on news apps, such as Apple News, Richmond says. Its 30-odd editorial and newsroom staffers—including its chief-of-content, Erin Keane—have been offered to join Find.co’s existing 70-some employees, who work remotely across continents. “I think this change comes at a great time for us,” says Keane. “We’re profitable and stable—thanks to the trust and support Chris Richmond and Drew Schoentrup have given our team—and now it’s time to grow.”

No layoffs are planned, according to company sources, and the new leadership will keep Salon’s blend of news and opinion in place, while dilating the existing coverage and adding additional verticals around finance and tech. Salon will be Find.co’s first property to focus on the U.S. market—and was attractive to Benoit and Amsellem as an iconic brand and for its newsroom full of young, remote-based journalists.  

“There is nothing to fix,” says Benoit. “There is really something to build on top of. We believe we can make Salon even stronger. We’re ambitious.”



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