Ziff Davis

Ziff Davis, LLC
Industry Magazine publishing/Internet information provider
Founded August 1927 (1927-08)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Founder William B. Ziff, Sr.
Bernard G. Davis
Headquarters New York City, New York, U.S.
Key people
Vivek Shah (CEO), Steve Horowitz (COO), Joey Fortuna (CTO)
Products Websites, media, data, podcasts, video podcasts
Revenue DecreaseUS $216.1 million (2015)
Number of employees
~600 +
Parent j2 Global
Website ziffdavis.com

Ziff Davis, LLC is an American publisher and Internet company. It was initiated during 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, by William B. Ziff, Sr. and Bernard G. Davis.


Throughout most of Ziff Davis' history, it was a publisher of hobbyist magazines, often ones devoted to expensive, advertiser-rich technical hobbies such as cars, photography, and electronics. However, since 1980, Ziff Davis has primarily published computer-related magazines, and its websites, derived from its magazines, have established Ziff Davis as an internet information company.

Ziff Davis had several broadcasting properties, first during the mid-1970s, and later with its own technology network ZDTV, later renamed to TechTV, that was sold to Vulcan Ventures during 2001. Ziff Davis' magazine publishing and internet operations offices are based in New York City, Massachusetts, and San Francisco.

On January 6, 2009, the company sold 1UP.com to UGO Entertainment, a division of Hearst Corporation and announced the January 2009 issue of the long-running Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine as the final one.[1]

Former Time Inc. executive Vivek Shah, with financial backing from Boston private equity company Great Hill Partners, announced on June 4, 2010 the acquisition of Ziff Davis Inc. as the "first step in building a new digital media company that specializes in producing and distributing content for consumers making important buying decisions."[2]

On November 12, 2012, Ziff Davis Inc., was acquired by cloud computing services company j2 Global of Hollywood, Calif. for $167 million cash.[3] According to a late 2015 Fortune article, Ziff Davis comprises 30% of parent company j2 Global's $600 million annual revenue (2014) and is increasing 15% to 20% each year. Analyst Gregory Burns of Sidoti & Company calculates that Ziff Davis is worth $1.9 billion.[4]

An early (June 1928) issue of Popular Aviation; the first magazine published by Ziff Davis. The covers were paintings for the first decade.

The William B. Ziff Company, founded during 1920, was a successful Chicago advertising agency that secured advertising from national companies such as Procter & Gamble for virtually all African American weekly newspapers. During 1923, Ziff acquired E. C. Auld Company, a Chicago publishing house. Ziff's first venture in magazine publishing was Ziff's Magazine, which featured short stories, one-act plays, humorous verse, and jokes. The title was changed to America's Humor during April 1926.[5][6]

Bernard George Davis was the student editor of the University of Pittsburgh's humor magazine, the Pitt Panther, and was active in the Association of College Comics of the East. During his senior year he attended the association's convention and met William B. Ziff. When Davis graduated during 1927 he joined Ziff as the editor of America's Humor.[7][8]

Ziff, who had been an aviator in World War I, created a new magazine, Popular Aviation, during August 1927 that was published by Popular Aviation Publishing Company of Chicago, Illinois. Managed by Editor Harley W. Mitchell it became the largest aviation magazine, with a circulation of 100,000 during 1929.[9] The magazine's title became Aeronautics for June 1929 and the publishing company's name became Aeronautical Publications, Inc. The title was changed back to Popular Aviation for July 1930. The magazine became Flying during 1942 and is still published today by the Bonnier Corporation. The magazine celebrated its 80th anniversary during 2007.

The company histories normally give the founding date as 1927. This is when B.G. Davis joined and Popular Aviation magazine started. However, it was not until 1936 that the company became the "Ziff-Davis Publishing Company". (Popular Aviation, April 1936, was the first issue by Ziff-Davis Publishing.) Davis was given a substantial minority equity interest in the company and was appointed a vice-president and director. He was later named president during 1946. Davis was a photography enthusiast and the editor of the Popular Photography magazine started during May 1937.[8]

Fiction and hobbyist magazines

During early 1938, Ziff-Davis acquired the magazines Radio News and Amazing Stories.[10] These were started by Hugo Gernsback but sold as a result of the Experimenter Publishing bankruptcy during 1929. Both magazines had declined since the bankruptcy but the resources of Ziff-Davis rejuvenated them starting with the issue April 1938. Radio News was published until 1972. During 1955 the magazine Popular Electronics, derived from Radio News, was begun and published until 1985. Amazing Stories was a major science fiction magazine and Ziff Davis soon added a new companion, Fantastic Adventures (FA). During 1954 FA was merged into the newer magazine Fantastic, founded during 1952 to great initial success. ZD published a number of other pulp magazines and, later, digest-sized fiction magazines during the 1940s and 1950s, and continued to publish Amazing and Fantastic until 1965.

Ziff-Davis published comic books during the early 1950s, operating by their own name and also the name Approved Comics. Eschewing superheroes, they published horror, crime, sports, romance, and Western comics, though most titles didn't last more than a few issues. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was the art director of the comics line; other notable creators who worked for Ziff-Davis Comics included John Buscema, Sid Greene, Sam Kweskin, Rudy Lapick, Richard Lazarus, Mort Leav, Paul S. Newman, Mike Sekowsky, Ernie Schroeder, and Ogden Whitney. During 1953, the company mostly abandoned comics, selling its most popular titles — the romance comics Cinderella Love and Romantic Love, the Western Kid Cowboy, and the jungle adventure Wild Boy of the Congo— to St. John Publications. Ziff-Davis continued to publish one title, G.I. Joe, until 1957, a total of 51 issues.

William B. Ziff, Sr., died during 1953 and son William B. Ziff, Jr. returned from Germany to assume his role in the company. During 1958 Bernard G. Davis sold his share of Ziff Davis to found Davis Publications, although Ziff-Davis continued to use his surname. With the younger Ziff's direction, ZD soon became a successful publisher of enthusiast magazines. Ziff Davis purchased titles like Car And Driver and by intending content for enthusiasts and readers who made purchasing decisions for their companies ("brand specifiers"), the company was able to attract advertising money that other, general-interest publications were losing.

During 1958, Ziff-Davis began publishing a magazine, HiFi and Music Review, for those who were interested in the growing hobby of high fidelity equipment. Ultimately, the magazine evolved into Stereo Review.

During the 1970s and 1980s the company's success increased with this strategy, and a rapidly expanding interest in electronics and computing. With titles such as PC Magazine, Popular Electronics, and Computer Shopper, Ziff Davis became the main technology magazine business.

Ziff Davis sold the majority of its magazines to CBS during 1984, keeping its computer magazines.[11]

Television stations

During 1979, Ziff Davis expanded into broadcasting, after an acquisition of television stations originally owned by greeting card company Rust Craft. Ziff Davis's stations included NBC affiliates WROC-TV in Rochester, New York and WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, CBS affiliates WEYI-TV in Saginaw, Michigan, WRDW-TV in Augusta, Georgia and WSTV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio (which changed its name to WTOV-TV and its network affiliation to NBC after Ziff Davis assumed control of the station), and ABC affiliate WJKS-TV in Jacksonville, Florida (which would also switch to NBC soon after its acquisition was finalized). These stations would be sold to other owners by the mid-1980s—- most of these would become owned by a new ownership group, "Television Station Partners", the exceptions being WRCB (which would be sold to Sarkes Tarzian) and WJKS (which was acquired by Media General).

Market Station Channel
Years owned Current Ownership Status
Jacksonville, Florida WJKS-TV 17 (34) 1979-82 The CW affiliate, WCWJ, owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
Augusta, Georgia WRDW-TV 12 (12) 1979-83 CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television
Saginaw - Flint, Michigan WEYI-TV 25 (30) 1979-83 NBC affiliate owned by Howard Stirk Holdings
(Operated through a LMA by Sinclair Broadcast Group)
Rochester, New York WROC-TV 8 (45) 1979-83 CBS affiliate owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
Steubenville, Ohio - Wheeling, West Virginia WSTV-TV/WTOV-TV 9 (9) 1979-83 NBC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group[12][13]
Chattanooga, Tennessee WRCB-TV 3 (13) 1979-82 NBC affiliate owned by Sarkes Tarzian, Inc.

Technology magazines and web properties

Ziff Davis first started technology-themed publications during 1954, with Popular Electronics and, more briefly, Electronics World. This resulted more or less directly in its interest in home-computer magazines. From that time, Ziff Davis became a major publisher of computer and internet-related publishing. It acquired PC Magazine during 1982, and the trade journal MacWEEK during 1988. During 1989, the company initiated the ZDNet site. During 1991 ZDNet on CompuServe and on the early internet were augmented by the purchase of Public Brand Software, the main shareware disk provider. During 1995 it initiated the magazine Yahoo! Internet Life, initially as ZD Internet Life. The magazine was meant to accompany and complement the site Yahoo!.

Owner William Bernard Ziff, Jr. had wanted to give the business to his sons - Daniel, Dirk and Robert - but they didn't want the responsibility. During 1994, he announced the sale of the publishing group to Forstmann Little & Company for US$1.4 billion.[14]

During 1998, Ziff Davis started ZDTV, a technology-themed television network. ZDTV was sold to Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. during 2000, and was renamed to TechTV.

During 2000, Ziff Davis Inc. was sold, with its URLs, to the company SoftBank.

Since 2004, Ziff Davis has annually hosted a trade show in New York City known as DigitalLife.[15] DigitalLife showcases the newest technology in consumer electronics, gaming and entertainment. Unlike E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) or the Worldwide Developers Conference, DigitalLife is open to the public.

During November 2006, Ziff Davis announced the cancellation of Official PlayStation Magazine. They cited a lack of interest in the magazine (and its demo disk) due to digital distribution. OPM had begun during 1997.

Ziff Davis Media Inc.

During 2001, the new company Ziff Davis Media Inc., a partnership of Willis Stein & Partners and James Dunning (former Ziff Davis CEO, chairman, and president), made an agreement with CNET Networks Inc. and ZDNet to acquire the URLs of Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis Media Inc. gained thereby the online content licensing rights to 11 publications, including PC Magazine, CIO Insight, and eWEEK, webpage of industry insider Spencer Katt.

During July 2007, Ziff Davis Media announced the sale of its enterprise (B2B or business-to-business) division to Insight Venture Partners.[16] The sale included all B2B publications, which include eWeek, Baseline, and CIOinsight, and all related online properties. The enterprise division is now an independent company named Ziff Davis Enterprise Group (ZDE).

On March 5, 2008, Ziff Davis Media Inc. announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its debt and operations. [17] [18] and emerged, after a court supervised corporate restructuring during July 2009.[19] In conjunction with this announcement they also stated that they are discontinuing their print copy of PC Magazine. According to BtoBonline, Ziff Davis Media made an agreement with an ad hoc group of noteholders, who will provide $24.5 million to fund the company’s operations and help plan the restructuring.[20]


During June 2010, Boston private equity firm, Great Hill Partners, purchased Ziff Davis, with online media executive Vivek Shah. At the time, Ziff Davis properties consisted of PCMag.com, ExtremeTech, GearLog, GoodCleanTech, DLtv, AppScout, CrankyGeeks, Smart Device Central and TechSaver.com, and reached over 7 million users a month.[21] Shah, with intentions of revitalizing the business, serial purchased logicbuy.com, geek.com, computershopper.com, toolbox.com, and Focus Research. Focus Research was a major provider of online research to enterprise buyers and high-quality leads to IT vendors. It was later renamed to "Ziff Davis B2B Focus" and operated as a stand-alone unit within Ziff Davis. Niche sites of the Ziff Davis B2B Focus network include ITManagement.com, ITSecurity.com, VOIP-News.com and InsideCRM.com.[22]

On November 16, 2012 Great Hill sold the company to j2Global, a provider of cloud services. The purchase price was $175 million, approximately 2.9 times the estimated 2013 revenue.[23] j2 Global actually paid $167 million in an all-cash deal.[24]

On February 4, 2013, Ziff Davis acquired IGN Entertainment, which included the brands IGN.com, 1UP.com, GameSpy.com, AskMen.com, and UGO.com. This acquisition immediately doubled the size of the digital media business for Ziff Davis' parent company, j2 Global Inc.[25]

During May 2013, Ziff Davis acquired NetShelter, an advertisement network dedicated to consumer electronics, computing and mobile communications, from inPowered. The combination of Ziff Davis' technology sites and NetShelter made it the new main property of the technology category, according to comScore, with 29 million U.S. unique visitors in April 2013.[26]

On February 21, 2013, Ziff Davis announced layoffs at IGN, as well as the complete closure of the 1UP.com, UGO.com, and GameSpy.com sites in order to "[focus] on our two flagship brands, IGN and AskMen".[27]

On November 20, 2013, Ziff Davis bought TechBargains.com, an aggregation site for low-cost deals on consumer electronics.[28]

On June 4, 2014, Ziff Davis acquired emedia, a provider of opt-in newsletters[29] and research to IT buyers and leads to IT vendors, from Reed Business Information. emedia became a part of the Ziff Davis B2B unit, which combined featured an email database of over 20 million.[30]

On December 2, 2014, Ziff Davis acquired Ookla,[31] a leading provider of broadband and mobile speed testing through its Speed-test website and mobile apps.

On December 31, 2015, Ziff Davis acquired Offers.com,[32] an online source of offers, deals, coupons, coupon codes, promos, free trials, and more.

International growth

At the end of 2015, Ziff Davis had 117 million readers, reaching 100 countries with 47 international editions. There are several international editions in the process of development during 2016.[33] Most of Ziff Davis' international editions are partnerships with local publishers, all of whom use a domestic content management system. The common CMS lets oversea editions get content from Ziff Davis' owned-and-operated markets and re-purpose it for their own editions. To establish itself in foreign markets, Ziff Davis asks its local partner to hold events. Popular past events include IGN Convention Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar.[34]

Current properties

IGN Network

Sold properties

Discontinued magazines and websites


  1. "Ziff Davis Media Reaches Agreement to Sell 1UP.com to UGO". January 6, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  2. "Ziff Davis Acquired by Digital Media Executive Vivek Shah and Great Hill Partners". June 4, 2010. Archived from the original on August 8, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  3. "j@ Global Acquires Ziff Davis, Inc.". November 12, 2012. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  4. "How Ziff Davis survived the death of print". October 29, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  5. "William B. Ziff, 55, Publisher, Is Dead.". New York Times. December 21, 1953. p. 31.
  6. "William Bernard Ziff.", Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 5: 1951–1955. American Council of Learned Societies, 1977. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
  7. "Bernard G. Davis, Publisher, Dead.". New York Times. August 29, 1972. p. 37.
  8. 1 2 "Bernard George Davis." Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 9: 1971–1975. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
  9. "Again, Mitchell". Time Magazine. Time. June 10, 1929. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2007. "Monthly magazine until this month called Popular Aviation and Aeronautics. With 100,000 circulation it is largest-selling of U. S. air publications." "Editor of Aeronautics is equally airwise Harley W. Mitchell, no relative of General Mitchell."
  10. "Advertising News and Notes". New York Times. January 18, 1938. p. 28. Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, has purchased Radio News Magazine and Amazing Stories.
  11. Kleinfield, N. R. (Nov 21, 1984). "CBS To Buy 12 Of Ziff's Magazines". New York Times.
  12. Sinclair Broadcast Group
  13. Archived March 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. New York Times: "Forstmann To Acquire Ziff-Davis" October 28, 1994
  15. "PCMag.com". Digital Life. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  16. "insightpartners.com". insightpartners.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  17. Dring, Christopher (March 6, 2008). "Ziff Davis files for bankruptcy protection | Games industry news | MCV". Mcvuk.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  18. "Ziff Davis Media Reaches Agreement to Restructure Senior Secured Debt". March 5, 2008. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  19. Ziff Davis makes a silent exit. The Deal, July 9, 2008 Archived November 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. Ziff Davis files for bankruptcy protection - MCV: 06/03/2008
  21. "Ziff Davis Acquired by Digital Media Executive Vivek Shah and Great Hill Partners". June 4, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  22. "Ziff Davis Acquires Focus Research,Inc". August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  23. "Great Hill Partners Announces the Sale of Ziff Davis, Inc.". November 16, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  24. "Ziff Davis Trades Hands Again". November 12, 2012. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  25. j2 Global More than Doubles Size of its Digital Media B... (NASDAQ:JCOM) Archived January 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. "Ziff Davis Acquires NetShelter from inPowered, Creating the New Powerhouse in Tech Media". May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  27. Sliwinksi, Alexander. "IGN hit with layoffs; 1UP, Gamespy and UGO shutting down". Joystiq. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014.
  28. "Ziff Davis Buys TechBargains.com". November 20, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  29. "Ziff Davis Acquires emedia". MarketWatch. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  30. "About Us".
  31. "Ziff Davis Acquires Ookla". investor.j2global.com. j2global.com. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  32. "California company acquires 2 Austin tech firms". mystatesman.com. 14 January 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  33. http://www.ziffdavis.com/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. "How Ziff Davis is expanding globally". October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  35. "Ookla, LLC Privacy Policy". Ookla, LLC. March 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  36. emedia.com
  37. "Ziff Davis Tech". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  38. "About Us". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  39. "eseminarslive.com". eseminarslive.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  40. "LinuxDevices.com". Archived from the original on August 22, 2006.
  41. "Microsoft Watch - Just another Linux Devices Sites site". Microsoft Watch. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  42. pdfzone.com
  43. "publish.com". publish.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  44. Stapleton, Dan. "Goodbye, And Thank You From The GameSpy Team". Gamespy. Archived from the original on December 9, 2013.


Further reading

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