Three Bidders Vie for a Majority Stake in Rolling Stone Magazine
The sale price is expected to be at or below $40 million.
Happy Anniversary to me! That’s what Jann Wenner will be saying when he sells his majority stake in Rolling Stone magazine to one of three bidders. In September, Wenner announced he would sell his remaining 51 percent ownership in the 50-year-old, biweekly magazine to the highest bidder. According to Recode’ Peter Kafka, three bidders remain, vying to take over the iconic magazine: Jay Penske of Penske Media Corporation who publishes Variety and Women’s Wear Daily, Bryan Goldberg, co-founder of the Bleacher Reporter and publisher of Bustle, and music executive Irving Azoff.
In November 1967, Wenner wrote the following about what Rolling Stone was or would become:
‘You’re probably wondering what we are trying to do. It's hard to say: sort of a magazine and sort of a newspaper. The name of it is Rolling Stone, which comes from an old saying: “A Rolling Stone gathers no moss.” Muddy Waters used the name for a song he wrote; The Rolling Stones took their name from Muddy's song and “Like A Rolling Stone,” was the title of Bob Dylan's first rock and roll record.
We have begun a new publication reflecting what we see are the changes in rock and roll and the changes related to rock and roll. Because the trade papers have become so inaccurate and irrelevant, and because the fan magazine are an anachronism, fashioned in the mold of myth and nonsense, we hope that we have something here for the artists and the industry, and every person who ‘believes in the magic that can set you free.’
Rolling Stone is not just about music, but also about the things and attitudes that the music embraces. We've been working quite hard on it and we hope you can dig it. To describe it any further would be difficult without sounding like bullshit, and bullshit is like gathering moss,’ Wenner wrote.
In September 2016, Wenner sold a 49 percent stake in the magazine to BandLab, a Singapore-based cloud platform for musicians owned by Kuok Meng Ru, son of Chinese billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong. Though Wenner didn’t disclose terms of the sale, Recode said the 49 percent sold for a ‘reported $40 million.’ Methuselah Advisors is helping Wenner with this sale. In September, Wenner said he asked the firm to explore ‘strategic options for its majority interest in Rolling Stone to best position the brand for future growth,’ according to Variety. In April, Wenner sold Us Weekly to American Media Inc. for $100 million.
Variety pointed out that Wenner Media was one of the largest independent print publishers remaining, prior to the sale of Us Weekly and the sale of the remaining portion of Rolling Stone. We’re curious to see what a new publisher would do with Rolling Stone. In today’s competitive publishing marketplace, it is possible the magazine could cut circulation and/or frequency as so many other magazines have done, or shift gears to become a digital-only publication with an entirely different market.