Blog network SpinMedia has sold Idolator, Buzznet and PureVolume to Hive Media, a company launched just last year that has offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York and Tel Aviv and advertises itself as an online media organization. The sale was completed at the end of August, according to Hive Media CEO Markus Levin.
The sale is the most significant move SpinMedia has made since its April 2013 acquisition of Vibe and its July 2012 purchase of Spin, both of which subsequently ended their long-running print publications. Formerly BuzzMedia, the company rebranded itself as SpinMedia in March of 2013.
All three sites had been owned by SpinMedia for years: The company itself grew out of the success of its first blog, Buzznet, launched in 1999; Idolator was acquired in April 2008 from Gawker Media; and PureVolume was purchased in a 2010 splash that included five other music-related sites. In addition to Spin and Vibe, it also owns music outlets Stereogum and Death & Taxes as well as entertainment sites Celebuzz, The Frisky, The Superficial, Celebslam and Go Fug Yourself.
Hive Media, on the other hand, is essentially brand-new: Its three new acquisitions are the only three brands it touts on its own site. The company was founded last year “by a bunch of people who love the boundless connectivity of the internet,” Levin wrote in an email to Billboard, a group that he said includes mostly Americans and Isrealis (Levin himself was born in Germany). The company will focus on entertainment, especially music, he added.
“We love Idolator, Buzznet and PureVolume and see a lot of potential in these music outlets. We seek to provide exciting experiences to the communities which are following those three entertainment properties,” Levin wrote. “We believe that we have a unique understanding of what our web communities are seeking, which enables us to create content and experiences uniquely catered to them.”
What that will mean for the sites and staff in concrete terms, however, is still unclear. All three outlets still list SpinMedia as their respective owners, and the SpinMedia site itself still lists all three as part of its music network; additionally, the top editors at each site appear to have remained in place. Levin also indicated that this is just the beginning for Hive, as it looks to “expand across genres to build an all-inclusive experience catering to everyone who loves music.”
Of the three sites, Idolator — as one might expect of a company founded under Gawker Media’s purview — certainly has the most colorful history. Founded in 2006 with head writer Brian Raftery, then led from 2007 until 2009 by Maura Johnston, Idolator developed a snarky, winking voice as it weighed in on pop music and the fan culture surrounding it. BuzzMedia budget cuts in April 2009 gutted the staff and contributors, and Johnston handled things solo before departing in November of that year. Robbie Daw took over the site and remains its editor-in-chief to this date.
Hive declined to comment on financial terms, as well as the possibility of purchasing further sites from SpinMedia. A rep for SpinMedia did not return a request for comment as of press time.