Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner is putting the magazine up for sale, marking a new chapter for the cultural bible that for half a century has spotlighted musical artists from Jimi Hendrix to Kendrick Lamar and prose from writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Matt Taibbi.
Wenner Media, one of the last family-owned media companies would become the latest publisher to shift away from print publications after years of losing advertising and readership to online alternatives. A sale would leave the company without a print publication for the first time since Wenner created Rolling Stone in San Francisco in 1967.
The buyer of Wenner Media’s 51 percent stake would most likely pay far less than the $500 million offer that Wenner has boasted about receiving years ago — before the print industry began its decline.
A new owner may bring in new management, which would mark another changing of the guard among celebrity editors. In recent weeks, Nancy Gibbs and Graydon Carter, top editors at Time magazine and Vanity Fair, announced they’re moving on.
Gus Wenner, the company’s digital chief, and his father, Jann, who started Rolling Stone when the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane were performing at local clubs, told the New York Times they intend to stay at the magazine but that the decision would be up to the new owner.
When Wenner Media sold a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone to Singapore-based BandLab Technologies in September 2016, it was the first time Jann Wenner had admitted an outside investor. The deal was an opportunity to take the brand into new and different markets, Gus Wenner said at the time.
The younger Wenner runs the day-to-day operations. While some former employees have said 27-year-old Gus lacks the experience to run a media company, others say his youth may help a magazine that has focused too much on aging rock stars when advertisers are seeking younger readers.
Rolling Stone is looking to invest more in video, including TV and film projects, Gus Wenner told Bloomberg earlier this year.
Wenner Media hired Methuselah Advisors to explore the sale of Rolling Stone, according to the company statement Sunday. The company didn’t say whether Wenner is in talks with any potential suitors. BandLab Technologies, a budding digital music company co-founded by Kuok Meng Ru, the scion of one of Asia’s richest families, declined to comment.
Earlier this year, Wenner Media sold Men’s Journal and Us Weekly to American Media…