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Nikki Finke (pictured), who delights in Hollywood scoops and gigging the entertainment establishment, has sold her one-woman DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com to Mail.com Media Corp., ending considerable speculation about where the site would wind up. In addition to the sale, Finke has a partnership agreement for exclusive distribution via MMC; she maintains “complete’ editorial control with the title of GM, editor in chief and founder. Financial terms were not disclosed but the announcement offers other details about the deal, including plans to double the editorial staff by hiring a “senior journalist” in New York. Finke has faced increased competition, including Sharon Waxman’s recently launched TheWrap.com with its larger staff.
DHD is not the first Hollywood site in Mail.com’s growing content stable. The company, founded in 2004 by Jay Penske and relaunched in 2007, is backing a team of ex-Gawker staffers in Movieline.com; it also owns HollywoodLife.com.
MMC, which started as a white label e-mail provider, now bills itself as a “leading digital media company” with the Mail.com portal and a portfolio of lifestyle brands with more than 10 million uniques a month. It claims to have a sports fan site coming soon. Other existing sites include OnCars.com, a JV with Motr, Inc. MMC raised $35 million in a fourth round led by Quadrangle Capital Partners late last year.
Updated: Rafat adds: Firstly, the disclosure: our company had some half-serious talks with DHD on and off for a year, until mid last year, before we were acquired by Guardian. There isn’t much I can disclose from those talks, except to say tangentially that Mail.com possibly had to buy Finke out of her contract at LA Weekly. But, now I have heard from sources that the sale amount was in “seven figures” and there are some other incentive triggers built in. My bet is it is in very low seven figures, with some cash and possibly some equity built in. Earlier this year, there was some discussion about her site’s value in a piece on TheWrap, and if you take the baseline valued bandied around then, this new price is certainly a big jump on it, though deservedly so considering her clout in Hollywood. Someone who has known her and the trade press told me last week: “There is no doubt Nikki sets the agenda in this town these days.” The test from now on would be to see if she can scale from here, especially in NYC…
Update 2: DailyFinance’s Jeff Bercovici reports a $10 million figure, while FT goes even higher with $15 million, both of them fantastical. We stand by our estimate.