News arrives today that well-liked San Francisco online publication The Bold Italic is returning from the dead thanks to a just-announced deal by two local tech professionals to purchase the site's assets. Though details haven't been publicized, it seems likely that the undisclosed purchase fell well below the $5 million price tag earlier quoted by former SF Bay Guardian publisher Mark Bieschke.
The Bold Italic, popular for its essays, news, and visual stories about San Francisco, abruptly announced it would cease operations in April. Since then, it's received an outpouring of fond remembrances, the kindest and wisest from former Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Maerz. Though the situation surrounding The Bold Italic's closure remains murky, the realities were simple. The site was owned by Virginia-based Gannett Co., Inc, which founded the site along with Bay Area think-tank IDEO. Somewhere along the line, Gannett, who own media outlets such as USA Today, decided to pull the plug on The Bold Italic, leaving Maerz, her team, and Bold Italic fans bereft of the publication they so clearly adored.
One among the many thousands who learned the sad news through Facebook was Sunil Rajaraman, a longtime writer, member of the tech community, and most recently the founder of a startup called Scripted. Rajaraman confirmed to SFist that he has purchased The Bold Italic from Gannett for an undisclosed sum. His co-owner is Sonia Arrison, who is a Board Member of the Thiel Foundation, a founder of the Singularity University in Mountain View, and a technology thinker and writer.
News of the re-boot landed this morning in another Facebook post that offered a flurry of excitement and a paucity of details for Bold Italic loyalists.
The lack of information comes, in part, because Rajamaran says the details aren't altogether worked out. "We're figuring it out as we go," he told SFist from his home in San Mateo where he has just welcomed his second child. "Quite frankly this all happened so fast." The new owner's motivations were simple. "It's frustrating to see all of these San Francisco publications shut down and I didn't want to let it happen again. Not on my watch." It sounds like getting the rights to the publication was simple, too. "It's actually funny, I was able to comment on a friend's Facebook post, and then I was able to get in touch with somebody from Gannett, and we were able to purchase the assets of the site."
Though The Bold Italic's store of previous content, slated to disappear in the near future, will now remain online, that will be the only carry-over from the publication's previous incarnation. So far no members of The Bold Italic's previous staff have signed on to work with Rajaraman and Arrison. To that effect, Rajaraman wants to "make it clear that the staff was gone before we had any of the discussions."
Most recently the author of a Medium post titled "How Much Money Do You Need to Raise For Your Startup?," Rajaraman clearly has an eye for funding that will serve the new Bold Italic well. Under his watch, TechCrunch reports that Scripted raised $4.5 million to create a marketplace for freelance, mostly copy and technical writing. Of his new property, he says, "I think there's a sustainable business model."
In co-owner Arrison, Rajamaran has a technology player and analyst who is clearly in it for the long run. That's a pun, since her most recent book is 2012's 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith, a text that "addresses the social, economic, and cultural impacts of radical human longevity." It was named a best book of the year by the Financial Times and is credited as a national best-seller.
Former Bold Italic staff received news of the sale in the following email, the text of which was obtained by SFist.
You've either seen the Facebook post or heard it through the the grapevine: Gannett sold The Bold Italic to Unsugarcoat Media which is the new entity formed by Sunil Rajaraman, the former CEO of Scripted. The deal closed today after the last 6 or so weeks of due diligence and negotiations. I'm not sure what Sunil's plans are but know he was very complimentary about the brand all of you worked so hard to build.
Previously: The Bold Italic Ceases Operations