Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ziff Davis Trades Hands Again

Ziff Davis has a new owner: “Cloud services” company J2 Global has bought the tech publisher from private equity firm Great Hill Partners for $167 million.

J2 runs a portfolio of cloud-based services generally aimed at consumers and small businesses, like eFax, Onebox and eVoice. The company says it acquired Ziff Davis, which runs Web publications like, ComputerShopper and, so it can build on its “experience and significant interest in the digital media and online marketing space.”

Ziff Davis will add $60 million to J2’s 2013 revenue, the company said.

For Ziff Davis, the sale is the latest chapter in the publishing company’s complicated history. It started out as a publisher of hobbyist magazines, and became a technology powerhouse in the 1980s.

In 1994, owner Bill Ziff sold the bulk of his family’s company to Forstmann Little, and since then it has traded hands several times; in 2008, the company filed for Chapter 11, and started shutting down its print titles.

Great Hill, along with former Time Inc. digital group president Vivek Shah, bought the publisher in 2010.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work