Univision Communications has tapped media and journalism veteran Raju Narisetti as CEO of the newly named Gizmodo Media Group, encompassing the six brands it acquired from Gakwer Media for $135 million in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Narisetti is currently senior VP of strategy at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, where he has overseen acquisitions and digital-growth strategy since 2013. He’s set to officially join Univision in late October.
As CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, Narisetti will be responsible for managing all business and editorial operations Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, car-culture-focused Jalopnik and gaming destination Kotaku. Narisetti will be based in New York, reporting to Isaac Lee, Univision’s chief news, digital and entertainment officer of UCI, and Felipe Holguin, president and COO of Fusion Media Group (under which the Gizmodo Media Group operates).
Gizmodo Media Group president Heather Detrick, executive editor John Cook, and deputy general counsel Courtenay O’Connor will each report directly to Narisetti.
Univision completed its acquisition of the six Gawker Media sites earlier this month. The deal did not include the flagship Gawker.com site, which ceased publishing in August. Nick Denton’s Gawker Media declared bankruptcy after the company lost a $140 million judgment this spring in Hulk Hogan’s invasion of privacy lawsuit stemming from portions of a sex video with the wrestler posted on Gawker.com. The lawsuit was funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who has had grudge against Gawker over a 2007 article that identified him as gay.
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Narisetti, 50, was managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network prior to his current role at News Corp. He was managing editor of the Washington Post from 2009-12, and before that was founder and editor of India’s Mint business newspaper. Narisetti, born in Hyderabad, India, first joined the Journal in 1991 as an intern, eventually being named editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe and deputy managing editor for the global WSJ.
“Raju is a rare combination, someone who comes with a very strong background in journalism, became a leader in digital media on three continents, and went on to develop new businesses for a global company,” said Lee in a statement. “His commitment to journalistic integrity, his entrepreneurial spirit and proven ability to adapt quickly in a fast-paced digital environment will help us strengthen and grow these newly acquired category-leading brands.”
Prior to closing the deal for the Gawker sites on Sept. 9, Univision angered staffers at the publications after it deleted six posts on Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jezebel citing ongoing litigation stemming from them. The deletions, coming over the strong objections of executive editor John Cook, prompted a protest by the Writers Guild of America East, which represents editorial employees of the former Gawker Media sites. In a memo from Univision’s Lee trying to calm the waters, he said the posts were removed so that the company would “not inherit any risk of liability for pending cases” and that the decision wasn’t a “precedent for the future.”
Narisetti, in a statement provided by Univision, said: “It is a privilege to be responsible for leading this unwaveringly energetic team of journalists and business staff. As part of Univision, we will now be more ambitious in deepening, broadening and sensibly scaling the passionate digital communities that Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Lifehacker have attracted, by offering accurate, responsible, edgy and engaging journalism, as well as through relevant, related content and commerce.”
With the addition of the Gawker Media sites, Univision’s Fusion Media Group now claims to reach 96 million unique visitors. FMG’s brands include Fusion, the Root, Flama, Univision Digital, Univision Music, as well as Univision’s interest in El Rey Network, the Onion, The A.V. Club and ClickHole. FMG also includes Story House, a content development and production unit.