Chris Hughes, the Facebook cofounder who bought a majority stake in political mag The New Republic in 2012 at the age of 28, is putting the magazine back up for sale, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Hughes, who helped cofound Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg and a couple other roommates, told the magazine’s staff on Monday in a memo obtained by the Journal that he would be seeking to find a new owner for the publication.
“After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic,” Hughes said in the memo. “Although I do not have the silver bullet, a new owner should have the vision and commitment to carry on the traditions that make this place unique and give it a new mandate for a new century.”
“Our disagreement didn’t help our ability to make The New Republic viable today, but it also did not spell our demise,” Hughes added. “Even though our search for a workable business model has come up short, we have shown that digital journalism isn’t at odds with quality and depth.”
Hughes also said that he’d underestimated “the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate.”
It was announced in late 2014 that Gabriel Snyder, formerly of Gawker and the Atlantic Wire, would replace Franklin Foer as editor of The New Republic. Just weeks after the widely respected magazine celebrated its 100th anniversary, owners said that they planned to turn the publication into a “vertically integrated digital media company.”
Not long after the news broke, Hughes was slammed by the media elite, and mass resignations from the magazine were announced. It was a perfect example of the long-standing divide between the Silicon Valley mentality of “disrupt everything” and the tradition-heavy East Coast media scene.
Hughes is reportedly worth about $450 million, and helped organise Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign online.
Sources tell the Journal that Hughes is already in “preliminary talks” with potential buyers, and is possibly exploring a non-profit structure for The New Republic, which has yet to find a sustainable business model.