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Univision sells the Onion, Gizmodo and other websites to private equity firm

FILE- In this June 14, 2006, file photo a journalist holds a microphone bearing the Univision logo i
A microphone bearing the logo of Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Univision Communications Inc. has sold tech website Gizmodo, satirical-news hub the Onion and other English-language sites to the private equity firm Great Hill Partners. Terms were not disclosed.

The Spanish-language broadcaster bought much of what was then known as Gawker Media for $135 million in 2016 after gossipy, confrontational Gawker lost a privacy suit against Hulk Hogan. (The original Gawker.com has a different owner. It is being relaunched by another digital media company, Bustle.)

A few years ago, New York-based Univision was investing in English-language digital sites aimed at young people. It bought the Onion in January 2016 and African American news site the Root in 2015.

But the strategy didn’t turn out well. The sites were not profitable and the company has refocused on Spanish TV. Univision put them up for sale last summer.

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Several digital media companies have recently run into trouble. BuzzFeed slashed its workforce to help it become profitable. Mic laid off most of its workers and sold itself to Bustle. The online-ad business is dominated by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. Amazon.com Inc. is also encroaching on that space.

Great Hill said Monday that it’s calling its new media company G/O Media. The collection of sites also includes the female-focused Jezebel, sports site Deadspin, pop-culture site A.V. Club and satirical clickbait site Clickhole, among others.

James Spanfeller, a digital-media veteran who is the former chief executive of Forbes.com, will lead G/O Media and is also a “significant” investor in it.

Great Hill has previously invested in media companies, including Ziff Davis, the publisher of PCMag.com, which it sold in 2012.

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