It is no secret that the world of print magazine publishing has long been held in the tight grip of men wearing suits and ties. Dating all the way back to the very first issue of Good Housekeeping in 1885, to current issues of Vogue, men have always been cashing in on the (supposed) interests of women. So while Anna Wintour may hold the Birkin purse, it's Samuel Newhouse who holds the purse strings.
But one of the greatest gifts of the Internet era is that, finally, anyone in the world has the chance to make their voice as loud as the big boys yelling from the tops of their pricey paper mountains. So now that the gates have been opened it makes sense that more and more women’s interest sites are owned by—oh wait, still men!
So here’s your chance to get to know the men behind your favorite “by women for women” sites. Because they certainly think they know a lot about you.
This site may be bustling with young women, but it’s Bryan Goldberg who is doing the hustling. Goldberg, who cofounded The Bleacher Report, a site he sold to Turner for $200 million, saw even more dollar signs in a site that would put “world news and politics next to beauty tips.” Before the launch, Goldberg raised $6.5 million from investors such as Google and Time Warner, and he couldn’t stop writing (read: bragging) about it and about how much richer Bustle was about to make him. In a now infamously bad PR move, Goldberg announced his plans for Bustle on PandoDaily and managed to offend just about everyone. He told the world about his new “feminist” site and how it would be the first of it’s kind. He even went on to say that women in publishing really didn’t understand their audience. As Goldberg cluelessly celebrated his fundraising, the Internet was steaming mad, in particular, the very many women's websites that were already doing what Goldberg boasted would be a "first." It all led to a shaky start for Bustle. But eventually, the tide passed, and Bustle has since become one of the most profitable women’s blogs out there. Since the 2013 launch, Goldberg has received even more investment money, just some pocket change here and there, adding up to over $27 million. Bustle’s tagline may read “by & for women,” but it may be a little more accurate if it read “by & for the pockets of one very rich dude.”
In 2011, Zooey Deschanel sucked us into this site with her doe-like eyes and a hypnotizing presence that could make us do anything she asked. Along with her gal-pal team,Molly McAleer and Sophie Rossi, the site was launched as a positive online community for women that upheld a very strict “no gossip” policy. The positivity shone like a twinkle in Deschanel’s eye, and women flocked to the site. In its early days, HelloGiggle, was quoted by Forbes as being the fastest-growing online community of women. And where there is money to be made on women, there is sure to be a gaggle of men not far behind. In 2015, the site was sold to Time Inc. Of Time’s twelve “leadership” positions (Presidents, Vice Presidents, and CEOs), only two are held by women. And of course the ladder of men doesn’t end there. Time Inc. is in turn owned by Time Warner, where there are a plethora of men counting stacks of money, and the one with the tallest stack of all is Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes. And while Deschanel and her partners still have creative control, they now report to the big men upstairs.
Gawker Media are the real Jezebels here, running an “online magazine focused on celebrities, sex, feminism, and issues relating to women's empowerment.” Gawker is a huge online media company worth upwards of $45 million, and Internet entrepreneur Nick Denton is the king of the castle. In 2007, Denton decided he could use a “girly Gawker” and hired the always awesome Anna Holmes to make it happen. Jezebel joined the Gawker family alongside sites such as Lifehacker which focuses on tips and tricks for productivity, Deadspin for sports fans, and Kotaku for gamers. For a man who once posted on his personal site "[b]logs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I've always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses," Denton sure has owned a lot of them: 16, to be exact.
Ariana Huffington may hold the name, but Jimmy Maymann holds the purse strings of Huff Post Women. In 2011, Huffington sold the popular liberal blog to AOL, putting CEO Jimmy Maymann in the driver’s seat of this women’s site. AOL was then bought by Verizon Communications, which led to an even bigger family tree of men with pockets bulging off the profits of the site, including CEO Lowell C. McAdam. In the beginning, Verizon was hesitant to even keep HuffPost in their network and the future looked iffy, and in June 2015 Ms. Huffington signed a contract that would ensure her position as President and Editor-In-Chief until 2019.
This site was originally launched in 2008 under Ted Turner’s “Turner Broadcasting” media company by Guhan Selvaretnam, the male head of the New Products Group at TBS. It was then purchased by BuzzMedia (now SpinMedia) in 2011. SpinMedia is a huge network of blogs which began with one lonely site that focused exclusively on music, SPIN. As SPIN started picking up speed the group began to buy up additional sites, one of which was The Frisky. As of today, they own 12 different sites that span from women’s interest to celeb gossip to the latest in music and TV. And when I say “they,” I mean CEO Stephen Blackwell and the six other men that make up SpinMedia’s corporate team.
Who is Mary Sue? She sounds like someone’s cute aunt who runs an online advice blog on baking apple pies, but it turns out she’s a fictional character created by fan fic writers and adopted by former Nightline anchor, Dan Abrams, as the persona of his women’s “geek culture” site. After Abrams left the world of hard-hitting news, he began the media company Mediaite, which owns blogs such as The Mary Sue, Gossip Cop, Sports Grid, and The Braiser. He claims that all the sites were started with his own money, but in 2015 Gotham named him one of the most powerful men in New York’s media scene, which makes us think that Abrams must be sitting on a pretty hefty pot of gold.
xoJane was launched by the dude-run company SAY Media in 2011. Though the site is credited as being founded by Jane Pratt, it’s Matt Sanchez and David Lerman who owned the company, and they were the ones getting serious paper when they sold the site to Time Inc. in 2015. No longer under the thumb of SAY, xoJane is now free to be run by the same male overlords as the ladies at HelloGiggles.
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