PMC chief Jay Penske has closed a $100 million deal to acquire a controlling interest in Wenner Media, the parent company of the venerable rock music bible Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner, who founded the magazine in 1967 with Ralph Gleason in San Francisco with a $7,500 loan from family members, will still be involved and take the role of editorial director. His son, Gus Wenner, will continue as president/COO. PMC will beef up its content and will announce its editorial lineup shortly. Gus Wenner will join Penske Media Corp’s Advisory Board.
Penske’s plan is to continue the magazine as a consumer print publication, and invest heavily to exploit the iconic brand name and broaden its footprint into the business-to-business sector, as well as building up the magazine’s already strong digital platform. PMC will invest in areas like the live event business and licensing. The music industry has revived itself as a viable industry in the streaming era, which makes it an attractive place to cross into B-to-B coverage.
It is the biggest investment in a single title that PMC has made, and rivals the amount paid for Fairchild Publications and its titles that include Women’s Wear Daily. The deal broadens the company’s portfolio, one that include Deadline Hollywood and more recent acquisitions Variety, WWD, IndieWire and The Robb Report.
Penske closed the deal today after a final meeting with Wenner. The competition was spirited for ownership of the magazine, and rival bidders reportedly included THR owner Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries; the music producer Irving Azoff; and the Sinagpore-based BandLab, which bought a 49% interest in 2016 that it continues to hold.