Ziff Davis, the digital media unit of J2 Global Inc., is close to an agreement to buy the struggling online news publisher Mashable Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter. A deal with Ziff Davis would offer Mashable a financial lifeline to continue its foray into video, a more costly endeavor than the written journalism that marked the company’s earlier years. Founded by Pete Cashmore in 2005, the company confirmed in August that it was seeking a buyer. Terms weren’t immediately known. J2 declined to comment while Mashable didn’t immediately respond. Mashable is one of many newer online media companies running low on cash and seeking financing. Hopes of creating profitable new digital behemoths have given way to more realistic expectations of a sale to a larger company. Time Warner Inc., parent of CNN, is one of Mashable’s major investors and led a $15 million funding round in March 2016. The publisher has produced videos for companies including Facebook and Bravo.
New York-based Ziff Davis is an 90-year-old publishing company known for chronicling the rise of the computing industry with technology-focused titles like PC Magazine. As print-ad sales declined, the company expanded online with websites such as AskMen.com, Geek.com and the blog ExtremeTech. The closely held company was sold to internet-services provider J2 Global Inc. in 2012 for $167 million.
Vivek Shah, who led the Ziff Davis division, was named chief executive officer of J2 Global in September. He has pushed to expand the online publishing business. Ziff Davis unsuccessfully sought to buy Gawker Media in August 2016. J2 Global shares climbed 1.5 percent to $73.25 at 1:24 p.m. in New York.