Ben Sherwood and Joanna Coles to Take Over Daily Beast, Given Minority Stake

Effective immediately, Sherwood becomes CEO and Coles will be chief content and creative officer

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The Daily Beast owner Barry Diller has given former ABC executive Ben Sherwood and former Hearst executive Joanna Coles a minority stake in the struggling news site as his latest attempt to reverse its declining fortunes.

They will step into executive roles with Sherwood as CEO and Coles serving as chief content and creative officer, effective immediately. 

The Daily Beast has been without a CEO since November 2023 when Heather Dietrick departed.

Sherwood, the former president of Disney ABC Television Group, and Coles, the former chief content officer of Hearst Magazines were granted an equity stake of around half of the publication, with IAC maintaining the majority stake, according to the New York Times

IAC did not provide details on the financial terms of the deal. 

Since its creation in 2013, The Daily Beast has lost Diller tens of millions of dollars, and the site has been known to be for sale. In its early days the site was reported to have lost an average of $12 million a year, something that knowledgeable insiders have said hasn’t changed in the decade-plus that’s followed.

As of last April, The Daily Beast saw approximately 70 million total site views and as of today has 15.5 million, which is on track for around 35 million this month, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.

“Facebook traffic has entirely dropped off too,” the individual added. “Diller went to war with Google and continues to lose that battle. Articles now will get more Bing traffic — which is all you need to know about how bad the site is floundering.”

On Saturday Puck News reported that Sherwood, the former president of ABC and Disney, and Coles, former Hearst Magazines chief content officer would assume a minority stake. The outlet’s previous editors John Avlon and Noah Schactman have left and Tracy Connor assumed the role of editor-in-chief in 2018.

In Monday’s NYT story, Sherwood said that the plan for revitalizing the business of The Daily Beast would pull from other publications that have “achieved profitability through a mix of subscriptions, advertising and events.”

According to the Times, Barry Diller, Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC got in touch with Sherwood and Coles earlier this year as they shared an understanding of what the future of the publication could resemble. Shortly after, Sherwood and Coles pitched Diller on a partnership.  

“These are tough times for digital journalism, but the combined experience, expertise and energy of Ben and Joanna have made me an optimist about their ability to make The Beast an enduring and successful enterprise,” Diller said in a statement.

The two added that there is no better time to get back into the media industry with the prosecution of the former president, turmoil abroad, and the 2024 election.

“Timing is everything, and the current media hellstorm feels like the ideal moment to jump back into journalism,” said Sherwood. “Yes, everything feels upside down right now with busted business models and transformative technology. With so much disruption—or maybe because of it—we believe this is the ideal entrepreneurial opportunity to deliver on The Beast’s insurgent promise. We are excited to work with the dynamic team at The Beast, cultivate and recruit great talent, and help unleash its populist potential.”


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