Axios, the digital media company founded by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, has sold to Cox Enterprises for more than a half billion dollars.
Cox Enterprises is a publicly traded media conglomerate that was founded on ownership of local newspapers. Today its subsidies include cable provider Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group.
Sources familiar with the deal said the agreement to purchase Axios totals $525 million.
“With so much happening in the world, Axios plays a critical role in delivering balanced, trusted news that people need,” said Cox Enterprises Chairman and CEO Alex Taylor. “Our company started in the media business, and we have always had a passion for journalism. Bringing a forward-thinking organization like Axios into Cox Enterprises is exciting for us on many levels, and we look forward to helping them continue to scale and grow.”
The outlet reported part of the deal includes new investment of $25 million in Axios’s media arm, which has recently branched out into a number of local news markets including Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
The companies’ three founders — VandeHei, Allen and Schwartz — will all keep a minority shareholder status at Axios and remain on its board while continuing to make day-to-day newsroom and business decisions.
“Not a chance,” VandeHei told The New York Times when asked if he planned to step aside in the near future. “This is my life’s work, it’s my passion. I would do it for free.”
The Axios communications software business, Axios HQ, will become an independent company majority-owned by the founders and will include Cox as sole minority investor. VandeHei will be chairman of the board of Axios HQ and Schwartz will be its CEO.
Axios is the latest in a slew of D.C.-based media companies to sell to large media conglomerates in recent months. Last summer, Politico was acquired by German publisher Axel Springer and the Times purchased The Athletic in January.
The Hill was sold to Nexstar Media Group last August.