In a media deal with a healthy valuation, Investor’s Business Daily has been sold to Wall Street Journal parent News Corp. for $275 million.
A daily newspaper from its founding in 1984, IBD shifted to weekly print frequency in 2016 but long before that had focused on offerings beyond newsprint. About 90% of its revenue is based on digital subscriptions, with circulation of around 100,000, according to the announcement of the deal.
Founder William O’Neil, a pioneer in financial circles, linked IBD with his company, O’Neil Capital Management, using it to amplify his philosophy on business and markets. Most of the company’s revenue comes from its portfolio of research and analysis products. Its news site, investors.com, drew 10.8 million average monthly unique visitors in February, according to Adobe Analytics. The company also has teamed with TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence on IBD/TIPP political polls.
Based in LA, IBD was created with the aim of offering a more data-driven, accessible alternative to the New York-based WSJ, a mission O’Neil would inveigh about during newsroom visits. Rather than the incumbent’s high-toned, meticulously crafted “A-Heds” and thousand-word features about blue-blood fund managers, IBD prized readability and quantitative insights.
The paper’s highly detailed stock tables — studied by a numerology-obsessed mathematician in Darren Aronovsky’s debut film, Pi — were printed in such small type that the company gave subscribers a magnifying-glass ruler as a promotional gift. But the wealth of proprietary data also earned a wide following and proved valuable to News Corp. News of the transaction, whose price tag exceeded those for many storied magazines and newspapers, comes during a period of surging interest in information by retail and individual investors.
In the deal announcement, News Corp., whose executive chairman is Rupert Murdoch, described IBD as “high-margin, profitable and rapidly growing.” It will be run by News Corp.’s Dow Jones unit, but as a stand-alone business, with its workforce of about 130 continuing to be based in LA.
“IBD will greatly enhance our e-expertise in finance, with compelling digital coverage, unique tools and high-yielding services. We will be able to cross-sell and up-sell with Dow Jones financial products and provide specialist insights for a knowing business audience,” News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said. “Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal reported record profits in the last quarter and I have no doubt that IBD’s savvy digital products and journalism will significantly bolster profitability at the Dow Jones segment.”
William Scott O’Neil, the son of the founder who is CEO of O’Neil Capital Management and IBD, said the company remains focused on educating and empowering investors. “We can’t think of a better place than News Corp and Dow Jones to take Investor’s Business Daily into its next phase of growth and create even more value for our loyal subscribers,” he said.
The deal is expected to close by the end of June.
News Corp., which bought the Journal from the Bancroft family in 2007, also owns the New York Post, Storyful and major book publisher HarperCollins.