Tallahassee Journal

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes plans to sell ‘The New Republic’

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes plans to sell ‘The New Republic’

Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook who bought The New Republic in 2012 but has struggled to retain readership following his controversial business strategy, is looking to sell the venerable political news magazine, admitting that he “underestimated” the difficulty of running a publishing business. “I bought this company nearly four years ago to ensure its survival and give it the financial runway to experiment with new business models in a time of immense change in media,” he wrote Monday to staffers and on blogging site Medium.com. “After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic.”

Hughes’ turbulent reign at the magazine was highly publicized in 2014 after staffers openly and publicly pushed back against his plan to cut back on the print schedule by half, shift more resources to digital media and lay off writers and editors. “I will be the first to admit that when I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate,” Hughes wrote.

Hughes defended his performance in the letter, saying its mobile website is now faster to load and that his digital strategy brought in “younger and more diverse” readers. The magazine also developed its own content management software. “Our journalism has been widely recognized as impactful, impassioned, and more relevant to our nation’s challenges than ever,” he wrote.

Hughes, who was a roommate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard and was heavily involved in the digital operations of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, bought the magazine as it was financially struggling amid the decline in print advertising. He placed his bet on the digital side, hoping to emulate other digital-only media entities that are looking to increase their traffic and valuation through a mix of fast-turned, viral content and traditional journalism.

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