Ziff Davis, LLC
, known as Ziff Davis
), is an American media conglomerate
founded in 1927. Originally an advertising and publishing firm, they primarily produced magazines and comic books for the majority of their history, briefly entered the television market in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the 1990s, fully transitioned to digital media
, affiliate marketing
and technology transfer
; today all of their subsidiaries are online properties. Among their former and current brands are Popular Photography
, science fiction magazine Amazing Stories
, computer publication PC Magazine
(now known as the website PCMag
, internet gaming review site IGN
, media platform Mashable
, and many others.
The company was founded by William B. Ziff Company publisher Bill Ziff Sr. with Bernard Davis. Upon Bill Ziff's death in 1953, William B. Ziff Jr.
, his son, returned from Germany to lead the company. In 1958, Bernard Davis sold Ziff Jr. his share of Ziff Davis to found Davis Publications, Inc.;
Ziff Davis continued to use the Davis surname as Ziff-Davis.
Throughout most of Ziff Davis' history, it was a publisher of hobbyist magazines, often ones devoted to expensive, advertiser-rich technical hobbies such as cars, photography, and electronics. Since 1980, Ziff Davis has primarily published computer-related magazines and related websites, establishing Ziff Davis as an Internet information company.
Former Time Inc.
executive Vivek R. Shah
, with financial backing from Boston private equity
company Great Hill Partners
, announced on June 4, 2010, the acquisition of Ziff Davis Inc. as the "first step in building a new digital media company that specializes in producing and distributing content for consumers making important buying decisions."
On November 12, 2012, Ziff Davis Inc., was acquired by cloud computing
services company J2 Global
of Hollywood, California, U.S.A. for $167 million cash.
According to an October 2015 Fortune
article, Ziff Davis comprises 30% of parent company J2 Global's $600 million annual revenue (2014) and is increasing 15% to 20% each year. Analyst Gregory Burns of Sidoti & Company
calculates that Ziff Davis is worth $1.9 billion.
An early (June 1928) issue of Popular Aviation
; the first magazine published by Ziff Davis. Artwork by Stewart Rouse. Ziff-Davis titles featured painted covers throughout the following decade.
The William B. Ziff Company
, founded in 1920, was a successful Chicago advertising agency
that secured advertising from national companies such as Procter & Gamble
for virtually all African American
weekly newspapers. In 1923, Ziff acquired E. C. Auld Company, a Chicago publishing house. Ziff's first venture in magazine publishing was Ziff's Magazine
, which featured short stories, one-act plays, humorous verse, and jokes. The title was changed to America's Humor
in April 1926.
Bernard George Davis was the student editor of the University of Pittsburgh
's humor magazine, the Pitt Panther
, and was active in the Association of College Comics of the East. During his senior year he attended the association's convention and met William B. Ziff. When Davis graduated in 1927 he joined Ziff as the editor of America's Humor
Ziff, who had been an aviator in World War I
, created Popular Aviation
in August 1927 that was published by Popular Aviation Publishing Company
of Chicago, Illinois. Under editor Harley W. Mitchell it became the largest aviation magazine, with a circulation of 100,000 in 1929.
The magazine's title became Aeronautics
in June 1929 and the publishing company's name became Aeronautical Publications, Inc.
The title was changed back to Popular Aviation
in July 1930. The magazine became Flying
in 1942 and is still published today by the Bonnier Corporation
. The magazine celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017.
The company histories normally give the founding date as 1927. This is when B.G. Davis joined and Popular Aviation
magazine started. However, it was not until 1936 that the company became the "Ziff-Davis Publishing Company
". (Popular Aviation
, April 1936, was the first issue by Ziff-Davis Publishing.) Davis was given a substantial minority equity interest in the company and was appointed a vice-president and director. He was later named president in 1946. Davis was a photography enthusiast and the editor of the Popular Photography
magazine started in May 1937.
Fiction and hobbyist magazines
In early 1938, Ziff-Davis acquired the magazines Radio News
and Amazing Stories
These were started by Hugo Gernsback
but sold as a result of the Experimenter Publishing bankruptcy
in 1929. Both magazines had declined since the bankruptcy but the resources of Ziff-Davis rejuvenated them starting with the April 1938 issues. Radio News
was published until 1972. The magazine Popular Electronics
, derived from Radio News
, was begun in 1955 and published until 1985. Amazing Stories
was a leading science fiction
magazine and Ziff Davis soon added a new companion, Fantastic Adventures
(FA). In 1954 FA
was merged into the newer magazine Fantastic
, founded in 1952 to great initial success. ZD published a number of other pulp magazines
and, later, digest-sized
fiction magazines during the 1940s and 1950s, and continued to publish Amazing
Ziff-Davis published comic books
during the early 1950s, operating by their own name and also the name Approved Comics
. Eschewing superheroes
, they published horror
, sports, romance
, and Western comics
, though most titles didn't last more than a few issues. Superman
co-creator Jerry Siegel
was the art director of the comics line; other notable creators who worked for Ziff-Davis Comics included John Buscema
, Sid Greene
, Bob Haney
, Sam Kweskin
, Rudy Lapick
, Richard Lazarus
, Mort Leav
, Paul S. Newman
, George Roussos
, Mike Sekowsky
, Ernie Schroeder
, and Ogden Whitney
. In 1953, the company mostly abandoned comics, selling its most popular titles—the romance comics Cinderella Love
and Romantic Love
, the Western Kid Cowboy
, and the jungle adventure Wild Boy of the Congo
—to St. John Publications
. Ziff-Davis continued to publish one title, G.I. Joe
, until 1957, a total of 51 issues.
From 1958, under the direction of sole owner Bill Ziff Jr., a polymath
with a photographic memory
, Ziff-Davis became a successful publisher of enthusiast magazines, purchasing titles like Car and Driver
, and tailoring content for enthusiasts as well as purchasing agents ("brand specifiers"); the company was able to attract advertising money that other, general-interest publications were losing.
In 1958, Ziff-Davis began publishing a magazine, HiFi and Music Review
, for the growing hobby of high fidelity
equipment. Ultimately, the magazine evolved into Stereo Review
During the 1970s and 1980s, the company's success increased with this strategy, and a rapidly expanding interest in electronics and computing. With titles such as PC Magazine
, Popular Electronics
, and Computer Shopper
, Ziff Davis became the leading technology magazine business.
Ziff Davis sold the majority of its consumer magazines to CBS
and its trade magazines to News Corporation
in 1984, keeping its computer magazines.
In 1979, Ziff Davis expanded into broadcasting, after an acquisition of television stations originally owned by greeting card company Rust Craft
. Ziff Davis's stations included NBC
in Rochester, New York
in Chattanooga, Tennessee
in Saginaw, Michigan
in Augusta, Georgia
in Steubenville, Ohio
(which changed its name to WTOV-TV and its network affiliation to NBC after Ziff Davis assumed control of the station), and ABC
in Jacksonville, Florida
(which would also switch to NBC soon after its acquisition was finalized). These stations would be sold to other owners by the mid-1980s—most of these would become owned by a new ownership group, "Television Station Partners", the exceptions being WRCB (which would be sold to Sarkes Tarzian
) and WJKS (which was acquired by Media General
Technology magazines and web properties
Ziff Davis first started technology-themed publications during 1954, with Popular Electronics
and, more briefly, Electronics World
. This resulted more or less directly in its interest in home-computer magazines. From that time, Ziff Davis became a major publisher of computer and Internet-related publishing. It acquired PC Magazine
in 1982, and the trade journalMacWEEK
in 1988. In 1989, the company initiated the ZDNet
site. In 1991 ZDNet on CompuServe
and on the early Internet were augmented by the purchase of Public Brand Software, the main shareware disk provider. In 1995 it initiated the magazine Yahoo! Internet Life
, initially as ZD Internet Life
. The magazine was meant to accompany and complement the site Yahoo!
From 1999 through 2000, as part of an effort to restructure Ziff-Davis Inc, SoftBank
would sell ZDTV to Paul Allen
's Vulcan Inc.
which would later be renamed to TechTV
, and spin off ZD and ZDNet.
In November 2006, Ziff Davis announced the cancellation of Official PlayStation Magazine
. They cited a lack of interest in the magazine (and its demo disk) due to digital distribution. OPM
had begun in 1997.
Ziff Davis Media Inc.
In 2001, the new company Ziff Davis Media Inc.
, a partnership of Willis Stein & Partners
and James Dunning (former Ziff Davis CEO, chairman, and president), made an agreement with CNET
Networks Inc. and ZDNet to acquire the URLs of Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis Media Inc. gained thereby the online content licensing rights to 11 publications, including PC Magazine
, CIO Insight
, and eWEEK
, webpage of industry insider Spencer Katt.
In July 2007, Ziff Davis Media announced the sale of its enterprise (B2B or business-to-business) division to Insight Venture Partners
The sale included all B2B publications, which include eWeek
, Baseline, and CIOinsight, and all related online properties. The enterprise division is now an independent company named Ziff Davis Enterprise Group
On March 5, 2008, Ziff Davis Media Inc. announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its debt and operations.
and emerged, after a court supervised corporate restructuring
in July 2009.
In conjunction with this announcement they also stated that they are discontinuing their print copy of PC Magazine. According to BtoBonline
, Ziff Davis Media made an agreement with an ad hoc group of noteholders, who will provide $24.5 million to fund the company's operations and help plan the restructuring.
In June 2010, Boston private equity firm, Great Hill Partners, purchased Ziff Davis, with online media executive Vivek Shah. At the time, Ziff Davis properties consisted of PCMag.com, ExtremeTech, GearLog, GoodCleanTech, DLtv, AppScout, CrankyGeeks, Smart Device Central and TechSaver.com, and reached over 7 million users a month. Shah, with intentions of revitalizing the business, serial purchased logicbuy.com, geek.com, computershopper.com, toolbox.com, and Focus Research. Focus Research was a major provider of online research to enterprise buyers and high-quality leads to IT vendors. It was later renamed to "Ziff Davis B2B Focus" and operated as a stand-alone unit within Ziff Davis. Niche sites of the Ziff Davis B2B Focus network include ITManagement.com, ITSecurity.com, VOIP-News.com and InsideCRM.com.
On November 16, 2012 Great Hill sold the company to j2Global, a provider of cloud services. The purchase price was $175 million, approximately 2.9 times the estimated 2013 revenue.
j2 Global actually paid $167 million in an all-cash deal.
Digital media growth
In May 2013, Ziff Davis acquired NetShelter, a display advertising network oriented towards consumer electronics and technology publishers, from ImPowered.
In November 2013, Ziff Davis acquired TechBargains.com, a deal aggregation site for consumer electronics.
In December 2015, Ziff Davis acquired Offers.com
an online source of offers, deals, coupons, coupon codes, promos, free trials, and more.
In December 2017, Ziff Davis acquired Mashable
, an American entertainment, culture, tech, science and social good digital media platform, for $50 million.
Following its acquisition of Mashable, Ziff Davis announced that it would implement longer, more in-depth content to boost the site's search traffic and restructure the platform to reduce costs.
In 2018, Ziff Davis had 117 million readers, reaching 115 countries with 60 international editions.
Most of Ziff Davis' international editions are partnerships with local publishers, all of whom use a domestic content management system. The common CMS lets oversea editions get content from Ziff Davis' owned-and-operated markets and re-purpose it for their own editions. To establish itself in foreign markets, Ziff Davis asks its local partner to hold events. Popular past events include IGN Convention
Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar.
In September 2019, Ziff Davis acquired Spiceworks
, a professional network for the information technology industry.
In November 2020, Ziff Davis acquired RetailMeNot
for $420 million, an aggregator of coupon offers across multiple website properties.
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Last edited on 8 May 2021, at 02:48
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