Laurene Powell Jobs is buying a majority stake in The Atlantic, a 150-year-old mainstay of American journalism, under a deal that could eventually give her full ownership.
Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective in about one month will purchase a majority interest in The Atlantic and its affiliated businesses from Atlantic Media owner David Bradley, according to a memo he sent to employees Friday.
“I will retain a large share of the property; likely, but not certainly, Emerson Collective will purchase my remaining interest three to five years from now,” Bradley wrote.
Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, said in a statement: “What a privilege it is to partner with David Bradley and become a steward of The Atlantic, one of the country’s most important and enduring journalistic institutions. Emerson Collective is excited to work with David, with his first-rate leadership team, and with his enormously talented staff, to ensure that The Atlantic continues to fulfill its critical mission at this critical time.”
Bradley, 64, will continue to own the other Atlantic Media properties: National Journal Group, Government Executive Media Group and Quartz. He acquired The Atlantic Monthly in 1999, after buying the National Journal Group two years earlier. Prior to his launch into the media biz, Bradley founded and owned two research companies, the Advisory Board Co. and the Corporate Executive Board Co.
According to Bradley, one year ago he enlisted a small group of researchers with identifying “a list of individuals who might succeed me as the 6th owner of The Atlantic.” He eventually winnowed down the list of more than 600 names to 50, “and, for me, from the first, Laurene Powell Jobs sat atop the list,” noting that “Emerson Collective had begun to invest in serious journalism for its own sake.”
The deal echoes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington Post in 2013 — a similar case of Silicon Valley money flowing into a bastion of American journalism.
Powell Jobs’ other media investments include Disney. Earlier this year she sold half her shares in Disney to now hold stock representing 4% stake in the company. Previously, she was Disney’s single largest shareholder.
In addition, Emerson Collective last year acquired a minority stake in management-production company Anonymous Content, whose productions include “Mr. Robot” and “Spotlight,” and also has invested in Macro, a production venture launched by former WME agent Charles King.
Bradley’s deal with Emerson Collective will not change any of The Atlantic’s management team, he said, with one exception: Peter Lattman, who was tapped by Powell Jobs to head up Emerson Collective’s media initiatives, will serve as Atlantic vice chairman based in New York. Lattman, former media editor and deputy business editor at the New York Times, will continue in his role of media strategist for Emerson Collective.
In his memo, Bradley added that “as to the only note of disappointment, Atlantic headquarters continues here in the Watergate, and not in Palo Alto.”