The four-year-old HelloGiggles is a mobile, social-first media brand by and for millennial women. Co-founded by actress Zooey Deschanel and pals Sophia Rivka Rossi (a producer) and journalist Molly McAleer, it launched in 2011 with the goal of covering pop culture, female empowerment, style, relationships, friendship, careers and more in a lively, stylish fashion.
Its description: “HelloGiggles is a positive online community for women (although men are always welcome!) covering the latest in culture, female empowerment, style, relationships, friendship, careers, and issues that matter most to young women’s lives. A platform for writers and artists to create and share, HelloGiggles welcomes reader contributions and publishes them daily.”
Fast-forward four years and it’s now racking up more than 17 million monthly unique visitors, and boasts a senior management team that has worked for Yahoo, MySpace, ABC and Condé Nast.
Never a celebrity website along the lines of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, for example, it’s editorial sunniness and mix of savvy and moxie is what attracted Time Inc., the veteran publisher (over more than 90 magazines) that has been on the hunt for digital acquisitions under CEO Joe Ripp and Time Inc. alum Norm Pearlstine, who rejoined the company two years ago as Chief Content Officer.
“With its passionate, highly-engaged audience and quality editorial voice, HelloGiggles is a great fit for our entertainment portfolio, which includes People and Entertainment Weekly,” Ripp stated about the HelloGiggles acquisition. “We see the opportunity for HelloGiggles to continue to evolve and grow as a multimedia content business. The site provides strategic benefits including a contributor network that unlocks access to a new pool of editorial and creative talent, an expansive audience of highly-engaged consumers and experience in branded and native content solutions.”
As the HelloGiggles team explained to its audience in a blog post, “By partnering with Time Inc., we hope to promote the work of our amazing contributors on an even bigger platform, to showcase young talent and reach more readers than ever, and to expand the HG community in cool, new, exciting ways.
Over the past four years we’ve grown from a small site started by three friends to a media company that stretches far beyond anything we ever dreamed. We’ve added live monthly events, podcasts, daily video, and we even published a book. All the while our readership has grown at a thrilling rate—you’re here with us, every day, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
Since spinning off from Time Warner to become an independent public company in 2014, Time Inc. has made acquisitions and stretched its wings, including launching Sports Illustrated Play, a new business devoted to youth and amateur sports, and acquiring UK Cycling Events (UKCE) and FanSided, a sports, entertainment and lifestyle network.
Deschanel will continue to serve as Chief Creative Officer of HelloGiggles, which the Wall Street Journal reports will continue to operate from Los Angeles as it is merges with the People and Entertainment Weekly group.
“Joining Time Inc. is an amazing opportunity to grow our brand and expand our message,” said Rossi, who will remain CEO. “Becoming a part of the iconic People and Entertainment Weekly family is an extremely exciting step for us. Together we will strengthen our connection to an engaged community of women and be well-positioned to build a truly 360 lifestyle content brand for the millennial generation.”
The millennial-centric media startup recalls the spirit of TIME’s cofounders, Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, who quit their jobs in 1922 (at the ripe old age of 23) to launch TIME as an aggregation of the week’s news in March 1923, making it the first weekly news magazine in the United States.
Now Time Inc. is forging new territory yet again. The HelloGiggles acquisition compliments Mimi, the magalog that Time Inc. launched this summer, although the deal also triggered the closure of All You, Time Inc.’s 11-year-old shopping website (co-funded by Walmart) aimed at young women.
“What the Kardashians do for their relatives is what we do for our friends,” Rossi told WSJ in 2012. “As entrepreneurs, these women are free from the constraints of big corporations.” Now it’s going to navigate life within the constraints of a big corporation. But its founders aren’t worried.
As the HelloGiggles team told its readers this week,
“Under Time Inc., HelloGiggles will continue to stand for the same mission we always have: to bring positive, empowering, smart, funny stories and videos to our readers and to support new female talent and give them a safe place to express themselves across the wilds of the internet.
We are here for YOU, first and foremost. And we’re lucky to have found in Time Inc. a partner who believes in the HelloGiggles community as much as we do.”