Business of Fashion is reporting that Paper Communications co-founders Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovits, have sold the company to a newly formed media group founded by Tom Florio, Condé Nast publishing veteran and Drew Elliott, Paper’s chief creative officer, with strategic partner XRM Media. (P.S. One reason BoF got this scoop? Tom Florio is a board member of The Business of Fashion.)
The terms of the deal signed on Tuesday were not disclosed and Hastreiter and Hershkovits’s roles in the future of the company have yet to be determined.
Paper has been a hugely significant voice in media, but it has struggled to scale its business model in today’s competitive media landscape. Florio says,
“It’s a tough industry to be in right now. [Kim and David] are excited we were able to bring innovation, passion and financial resources to it.
Paper comes from a reference point of understanding what’s good in pop culture. That doesn’t seem to really exist today with a lot of the digital publishers that are launching against this millennial market, especially targeted towards young women.”
“I always wanted Paper’s vision and what Kim and David have built to be seen by so many more people.”
Over a year ago, as Florio sought to build a new media company he began having conversations about Paper’s future with Hastreiter.
“I like Paper because of [its] cultural legitimacy… the reference points [come] from people who understand pop culture, who understand art, who understand music, who understand food, and it’s not just algorithmically based content.”
Paper Communications includes the print magazine (which will now shift from publishing six times a year to a quarterly frequency), the digital business (Papermag.com, which sees 1.5 to 3 million monthly unique visitors) and the creative agency Extra Extra. The agency does event marketing for clients like Target and AmEx, and accounts for most of Paper’s revenue. Florio says he and Elliott plan to grow the digital content into the primary revenue source by expanding the team, investing in video and viral strategies and building
“social architecture and distribution” technology.
“We will convert readers to viewers and that’s really the important thing. I really want to break down this idea that we need to report on culture; I want to create culture. It’s not just going to be on websites and in magazines, it’s going to be in entertainment and across all screens.”
Publishers such as Bustle, Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan are racing to create something akin to a Vice for female audiences: a video-centric platform that resonates with millennial audiences. The combo of Paper’s rich history and new leaders’ focus on distribution may give it a leg up on its competitors. We shall see.
“We aren’t built on this old traditional media company. We are a startup on top of a 35-year-old heritage.”
Hastreiter said this morning on Facebook,
“I’m such a proud mamma today to see my baby @papermagazine ready to blast off into the stratosphere for its next incarnation under the visionary leadership of my (now grownup) #1 most brilliant #paperbaby @drewpsie Elliott ( yes kids he started as a PAPER intern a few decades ago and has blown my mind since day one!) along with my fierce friend pub legend @tomflorio. Doesn’t get better than this. Fasten seatbelts world!!” 🗼🗼🗼🔥🔥🔥 #paperrules
FYI, Paper was founded in 1984 by Kim & David along with creative partners, Lucy Sisman and Richard Weigand. At the time, I was on staff at Vanity Fair in the art department. I would leave my VF job in the evenings and go to the New York Times offices to help design the first issues, which was a giant fold-out, quarter fold. I’m so excited to see that something that was literally built as a creative labor of love, has a new life 4 decades later in this ever-changing digital age.
ConDRAGulations, Kim & David and Good Luck, Drew!
(Photo of Drew, Twitter: via BoF)