Daily Beast’s boss scrambled Friday to tamp down fears the news site will be sold after a report that a deal was in the works, The Post has learned.
CEO Heather Dietrick fired off a message to jittery staff, saying “there is no deal and it’s impossible to predict what might happen,” according to an internal Slack message leaked to The Post.
Barry Diller, who runs Daily Beast-parent company IAC, has tapped advisory firm Whisper Advisors to explore the sale but the process was in “early stages,” The New York Times reported.
“Clearly there has been a lot of internal worry over the potential sale of the Daily Beast this morning,” a Daily Beast newsroom source told The Post. “There’s been a lot of chatter within Slack. Staffers are very worried over it and have made calls to each other.”
Dietrick tried to calm those fears in her message to staff.
“I wanted to follow up on the New York Times story today. It isn’t surprising that — particularly after our successes of the last few years — other media companies may have expressed interest in The Daily Beast, or that IAC would be having conversations,” Dietrick wrote in the leaked memo.
The CEO added: “I know a rumor like this can be unsettling, but I can say with confidence that there is no cause for panic here.”
When reached by The Post, a Daily Beast spokesperson said it “does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
The Daily Beast source touted the newsroom’s “close-knit team” and likened it to a “big pirate ship” helmed by editor in chief Tracy Connor, saying that the fun, reporting-focused culture of the site “might change if a new owner comes in.”
Tech and media mogul Diller has owned the Daily Beast for 14 years after co-founding the site with longtime editor Tina Brown.
The scrappy digital publication — which drew roughly 15 million visitors in November — has landed some big scoops, such as news that former NFL player Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, was the father of children he had not previously mentioned publicly.
But the site has also struggled financially, turning to digital subscriptions to grow revenue. Currently, the company charges $4.99 a month for unlimited access to its coverage, while offering an advertising-supported crossword puzzle five times a week. The site also takes a cut of online sales on products it recommends under its “Scouted” section.
The gossip and news site is the subject of a lawsuit against a former editorial director of Gawker, who sued the company in 2020 for defamation. That case is winding its way through the courts and is expected to heat up this year. The Daily Beast has said its article is accurate.
Diller’s reported move to sell the Daily Beast comes as the advertising market is squeezing media companies. Diller, whose company IAC acquired a host of magazines from Meredith Corp. in 2021, has been digesting that merger. Its portfolio includes digital sites People, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living. Last year, IAC said it was closing the print editions of Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, EatingWell, Health, Parents and People en Español.