Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on May 3, 2022.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Axios is being acquired by Cox Enterprises, the companies said Monday, with plans to expand the digital news site’s coverage to include more cities.
The deal values Axios at $525 million, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Axios co-founders Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz will remain on the company’s board and continue to manage its day-to-day operations, the companies said in a statement. Alex Taylor, the CEO and chairman of Cox Enterprises, will join Axios’ board.
Atlanta-based and privately held Cox previously invested in Axios in the fall of 2021. The company stepped up talks to buy Axios a few months ago, intrigued by the company’s push into local journalism, VandeHei said. in an interview Axios, which focuses heavily on political and business news, launched in 2017 and offers local coverage of cities including Austin, Texas, Boston and Seattle, according to its website.
“We were looking for two things: a buyer who was truly committed long-term with serious media and someone who was OK with us being in control for a long time,” VandeHei said. “This is not because we are arrogant, but because we have a clear mind about what a good journalistic business looks like.”
Axios never hired a banker and only talked to Cox about a sale, rather than soliciting other buyers, said VandeHei, who described the deal as “nice and easy,” with talks that have intensified in recent months. axes previously held talks to sell to Axel Springer i to merge with The Athleticwhich The New York Times bought earlier this year.
This is VandeHei’s second time founding a media company that sold for more than $500 million. He was a co-founder of Politico, which it was sold for $1 billion to Axel Springer last year having left for Axios. Allen was Politico’s first hire, and Schwartz was Politico’s former chief revenue officer.
Cox owns cable and automotive businesses. It also owns The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other Ohio newspapers, which the company said will continue to operate independently. He sold control on the vast majority of its media assets in 2019 at the private equity firm Apollo Global Management.
Axios HQ, the company’s software arm, will become a separate entity led by Schwartz, Axios’ president.
“We are excited to enter this new chapter with Cox and the opportunities we can explore with Axios HQ as an independent business,” said Schwartz.
Disclosure: CNBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal, invested in Axios.
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