Ever since news broke last year that satirical news source The Onion was shutting down their New York office and heading to Chicago, The Atlantic reports that the core team of staffers has pursued every avenue to keep the company from heading west. One bizarre but apparently legitimate option was to have startup non-incubator Betaworks buy The Onion.
According to The Atlantic, head of digital at The Onion, Baratunde Thurston, sought out an interested buyer in Betaworks, despite their seemingly disparate business visions. An editorial staffer at The Onion told The Atlantic, “[Betaworks was] an ideal buyer because you had this nurturing technology company that would let us expand in New York and do the things we wanted to do.” Another editorial staffer corroborated the report, saying that Onion owner David Schafer seriously considered the offer for two weeks before turning it down.
John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks, refused to confirm the failed deal to The Atlantic. Immediate requests for comment to Mr. Borthwick from Betabeat were not answered. (He is allegedly on vacation.)
The duo would certainly make for strange bedfellows, since Betaworks’ ventures like Bit.ly and Chartbeat are more focused on data than editorial verticals. But it’s kind of a shame the deal fell through. We’d rather have a Betaworks-owned Onion than a city without them at all.