Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: BermanBraun Buys Most of Shelby Bonnie’s Whiskey Media

In a deal that was just signed, longtime Silicon Valley exec Shelby Bonnie has sold his social publishing start-up, Whiskey Media, to Santa Monica-based entertainment and interactive production company BermanBraun.

As part of the deal, BermanBraun will get three key sites of San Francisco-based Whiskey, including video entertainment-focused Screened, tech-testing site Tested, and Anime Vice, which covers anime and manga comics. It will also acquire Whiskey’s content-publishing platform.

Two other sites owned by Whiskey — games-oriented Giant Bomb and comic-book database Comic Vine — will be sold to another media company, which is rumored to be CBS Interactive.

Heaped on top of the niche content, aimed at passionate fans, Whiskey mixes in a lot of social networking, as well as user-generated content, along with its professional fare.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

But the major reason for the acquisition is that BermanBraun — which also makes popular sites for large portals such as Microsoft’s MSN (the Wonderwall celebrity site and Glo, aimed at the women’s lifestyle arena) and AOL (upcoming sites on weather, men and pets) — needs to be able to scale its online content production. The Whiskey platform should be able to allow it to more easily grow and create new sites more quickly, as well as mine data across them.

“With the addition of Whiskey’s first rate team and powerful, state of the art publishing, data and social tools platform, we will be able to further enhance our user experience and engagement, and provide our advertising partners with unparalleled data insights,” said Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman, who run BermanBraun, in a statement. “One of the other great parts of this acquisition is that we will have Shelby Bonnie in our lives. We have enormous respect for Shelby personally and professionally, and his insights, relationships and acumen will be invaluable to us.”

Bonnie, who was once CEO of CNET, which he helped found, added: “I have had the pleasure of knowing both Lloyd and Gail for years and they are two incredibly high integrity people who bring passion and creativity to the interactive space. As we see a dramatic changes in the whole media landscape, success will demand new skills and talents. BermanBraun’s content skills and vision joined with the Whiskey platform will create a combination that I believe is without equal. I couldn’t be more excited for the combination.”

Here is a video interview I did with Bonnie in mid-2010 about Whiskey:


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo