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Observer Picks Up Majority Stake In Webby Winner Very Short List

vsl.pngToday, IAC and the Observer Media Group officially announced their deal passing majority control of IAC’s email newsletter Very Short List to Jared Kushner-owned Observer. VSL, which last week won a Webby Award for “Best Guides, Ratings and Review Website,” has been renamed The Observer’s Very Short List and will be written and edited by the staff of The New York Observer — who are already overworked thanks to recent staff cuts.

News of the deal broke this weekend, with Gawker reporting that the entire VSL staff had been laid off. A press release distributed today did not touch on any staff cutbacks, but did mention that founders Kurt Andersen and Michael Jackson “will continue to remain involved” in the joint venture that is now The Observer’s Very Short List.

Full release after the jump


OBSERVER MEDIA GROUP AND IAC ANNOUNCE JOINT VENTURE

IAC Contributes Cultural Email, Very Short List to Create Joint Venture; Observer Media to Maintain Majority Stake

New York, NY (June 15, 2009) — IAC [NASDAQ: IACI] and the Observer Media Group today announced that IAC has contributed the assets of Very Short List (VSL) to a joint venture with Observer Media Group. Observer Media Group will acquire majority control of the venture and IAC will maintain a non-controlling stake. Additional terms have not been disclosed.

VSL is a free daily email that provides subscribers a recommendation of one must–see, cultural item a day. VSL (VeryShortList.com) was originally created by author Kurt Andersen, IAC Senior Advisor Michael Jackson and design studio Number 17, in conjunction with IAC. Last month VSL won the prestigious Webby Award for “Best Guides, Ratings and Review Website.” The email newsletter will be renamed The Observer’s Very Short List and the founders will continue to remain involved under the new joint venture.

“VSL has always offered incredibly dynamic content,” said Jared Kushner, owner and publisher of The New York Observer. “The Observer’s Very Short List is another example of how the Observer Media Group offers its readers the most cutting-edge information, available in a variety of platforms and written by an editorial staff known for its distinctive and discerning style and wit. With VSL, Politicker, NYFi, our Webby-nominated website, observer.com and the strength of our weekly newspaper, Observer Media Group is emblematic of journalism today — a bridge spanning traditional and future media.”

The Observer’s Very Short List will point to excellent, new — and sometimes vintage– undiscovered entertainment and media each weekday and will continue to offer one cultural recommendation a day — a single gem from the vast mass of films, TV shows, books, websites, music, and more. The focus is on products that deserve attention but haven’t already been subject to huge media promotion. The New York Observer’s award-winning editorial staff will report and edit the newsletter, overseen by the new acting editor, Tom McGeveran.

“We are proud of the work we’ve done shaping VSL, which now has 200,000 subscribers,” said Michael Jackson, Senior Advisor at IAC. “It will be exciting to watch it continue to grow in collaboration with Observer Media Group.”

About IAC

IAC operates more than 35 leading and diversified Internet businesses across more than 30 countries…our mission is to harness the power of interactivity to make daily life easier and more productive for people all over the world. To view a full list of the companies of IAC please visit our website at http://iac.com/.

Observer Media Group

The New York Observer was founded by Arthur L. Carter in 1987 and purchased by Jared Kushner in 2006. As publisher, Kushner is currently using a multi-media platform to develop the Observer brand into a dynamic 21st century media entity, including the recently launched redesign of the Observer website (observer.com). The New York Observer is published every Wednesday, and its website is refreshed continuously and features breaking news.

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