The tech mogul Barry Diller was one of the first billionaires to experiment with digital journalism in the 2000s, teaming up with longtime editor Tina Brown to start The Daily Beast, a scrappy tabloid for the budding online era.
Now, Mr. Diller’s 14-year run as owner of the internet muckraker may be coming to an end.
IAC, the holding company founded by Mr. Diller that owns digital properties including People, Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living, has hired the investment bank Whisper Advisors to explore the sale of The Daily Beast, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.
The sale process is in the early stages, the people said, and it may not result in a deal. The price The Daily Beast might command in a sale is not clear.
An IAC spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Daily Beast has had journalistic successes, churning out scoops on the media industry and political and national security issues over the years. Last year, it broke the news that Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, was the father of children he had not previously mentioned publicly.
But it hasn’t achieved the financial success of some of Mr. Diller’s other investments. The site has been a small part of Mr. Diller’s sprawling digital empire, operating independently of his other publishing brands, with its own chief executive and management team.
Like other digital-media companies, The Daily Beast has turned to digital subscriptions to grow its business in recent years. The company charges $4.99 a month for unlimited access to its coverage, while offering an advertising-supported crossword puzzle five times a week. It also takes a cut of online sales for products that it recommends on Scouted, a section of the site dedicated to internet shopping.
It may be an inopportune time to explore a sale for Mr. Diller, whose record in digital media has included successful spinoffs of the dating conglomerate Match Group, the travel business Expedia and the video service Vimeo. Media stocks have fallen sharply over the last year amid a broader market swoon, as skittish investors grew wary of the advertising and video-streaming businesses.
The Daily Beast’s aggressive reporting has also made it an occasional target of lawsuits, which could complicate a sale. In 2020, the former editorial director of Gawker sued The Daily Beast after the site published an article about Gawker’s tumultuous relaunch. The Daily Beast has said its article was accurate, and the lawsuit is still working its way through court.
Despite its relatively small staff — it has a newsroom of fewer than 100 journalists — The Daily Beast attracts a sizable audience. The site drew about 15 million visitors in November, according to Comscore, a measurement firm.
The Daily Beast has also developed a reputation for narrative reporting. In 2020, the site published a popular yarn describing a yearslong plot to defraud McDonald’s by rigging its Monopoly game that was optioned by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Pearl Street Films for about $1 million.