BuzzFeed, a scrappy young internet media company similar to Etsy, Zynga, Taboola, IAC, or The New York Times, announced today that it plans to SPAC Rothstein 890 Avengers $1.5 billion 5th Avenue Partners in order to [gestures extensively in finance] and [performs an interpretive dance expressing the idea of a “Media 2.0” platform primed to benefit from digital tailwinds core to our thesis]. According to a heavily-branded and incomprehensible Powerpoint deck, all of this is somehow necessary for BuzzFeed to achieve its true goal of acquiring Complex, a website about sneakers that is losing money on declining revenue, if I’m scrying these knucklebones correctly. As always, “current pro forma financial model does not account for synergies.” Tragically, the complex machinations of the deal ejected technology reporter Ryan Mac, who now finds himself employed by the New York Times. Our condolences.
It’s fun to joke about the giant platforms humping each other financially, but Katie Notopoulos is about to get rich for spending nine years writing about adult diaper enthusiasts, and that’s unquestionably a good thing. When listed, the company’s ticker symbol will be $ABDL. Congrats, BuzzFeed! Or as Saeed Jones put it, “Burn in hell, @peretti!”
Also Today in Business and/or Media If There Is In Fact Even A Difference Anymore Or Ever Was One: “Chance meetings at the office” is bullshit, reports Claire Cain Miller in the Times. Tabs friend and Study Hall co-founder Kyle Chayka started a “weekly-ish” New Yorker column yesterday. The first one is about “main-character energy.” Unfortunately I cannot reveal his caricature but trust me: the eyeshadow is on point. Teen blood enthusiast and cartoonishly evil tech villain Peter Thiel has five billion dollars stashed in a tax-free Roth IRA, reports ProPublica in the newest installment of their ongoing series: “Here’s How The Ultra-Wealthy Are Screwing You.” Paul Ford and Rich Ziade are stepping down as CEO and President respectively of Postlight, the software agency they co-founded. Chris LoSacco will take over as President and Gina Trapani as CEO1, while Paul and Rich will be staying with the company in their new roles: “not CEO” and “not President.” Every executive in this list has personally declined to hire me, so you know they’re all smart.2 From Egg’s content marketing website: “Fans, Not Professional Developers, Will Drive the Hit IPs of the Future.” Thanks, I hate it! Matt Levine: “I realize that I sound like an impossible simpleton… But I do think that the basic, bizarre explanation for why GameStop’s stock price can stay so high and so volatile for so long is that there’s no one left to sell.” ♾💎🤚 And Bloomberg has the full stuck boat story, at last.
Dear friends, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy paper: Apple Daily. Ultimately it was a combination of financial, legal, and police pressure that caused the 26-year-old tabloid to fold yesterday after publishing its last edition. Phila Siu, Ng Kang-chun, Natalie Wang, and Danny Mok at South China Morning Post (SCMP) were at the Apple Daily offices during their final publication, and spoke to the remaining staff—from journalists to the designer of the last cover. The paper is survived by one sibling, a smaller Taiwanese edition.
Apple’s founder and backer, billionaire Jimmy Lai, was the first high profile figure to be charged under Hong Kong's new security laws although he is just one of an estimated ten thousand others. When he founded the paper in 1995, Lai famously hired delivery boys as reporters because “We feel that now with the worsening traffic jams, pizza delivery boys know how to arrive at the spot the fastest.” Here's an interview with him conducted by SupChina in June 2020, and his last interview before his imprisonment, with the BBC.
The tabloid was like its founder: freewheeling, blunt, and not without controversy, but unafraid to challenge authority to the end. So I thought I would tab some of the dispatches they published in their sold-out final print run. Their website was pulled offline ahead of schedule, but many of the articles have been archived for posterity by quick thinkers. I highly recommend looking through their last publications yourself—Google Translate works well, if inelegantly, on Chinese. In their last post, the staff wrote that despite this closure, Apple will never wither, because “if you pick an apple, it will grow multitudes more that will take root in the hearts of people,” so here are some of the last seeds:
Lu Lichan covered the history of the paper, from reporting on corruption and pro-Democracy to controversies and the final arrests of its editors and owners. He writes, "Apple was not perfect, but what kind of Hong Kong will the Hong Kong that has no place for us be?"
Li Yuting wrote a comedic but emotional farewell to their arrested Editor-in-Chief Luo Weiguang, remarking that during their seven year working relationship, the man mostly responded to messages with the 👌 or 👍 emojis.
Their paparazzi desk also wrote their own cheerful farewell essay on chasing celebrities in Hong Kong, complete with some of their most prized grainy pap shots.
Hong Kong News reporter Yuan Chushuang reflected on entering the offices for the last time, writing that no company is perfect and one often would complain about the bureaucracy, but "it turns out that there are some jokes and truths that can only be told if someone is willing to tolerate them."
On the Chinese language Reddit forum /r/China_irl, someone remarked that, “If the title of Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy paper is held by a tabloid, that's embarrassing for SCMP.” But while SCMP is widely considered the paper of record for Hong Kong—and I recommend adding it to your media diet—the power of tabloids shouldn't be discounted. Maybe you thought I wasn't going to link an academic study today, but Florian Foos and Daniel Bischof examined the thirty year boycott of the right-wing British tabloid, The Sun, in Merseyside and found that it unintentionally led to the county having much less Eurosceptical attitudes than surrounding areas. Belief in democracy is not an inherent trait of humanity and for both better and worse, tabloids influence the perspectives of their audiences. Losing Apple Daily is a blow on many levels. Please leave an offering and burn some spirit money.
Intern Linda bombarded me with Apple Daily links yesterday until I told her to just write about it herself, and I clearly made the right call. But Substack is giving me the “wrap it up” signal so briefly:
Britney testified (transcript), it was horrific, Chris Crocker was right, stfu Justin Timberlake, CJR collected a lot of receipts, Vox’s Constance Grady wrote about the celeb media’s “we’re trying to find the guy who did this” act, and here’s Rachel Aviv in the New Yorker from 2017 on how similar “guardianship” arrangements go for the elderly (also horrific).
Finally, pour yourself a 5G gin and lemon dirt-water and enjoy this all-time classic tab, from Insider’s sheltered suburban teen revelations correspondent Frank Olito: “I'm a New Yorker who visited the Midwest for the first time. Here are 15 things that surprised me.” The things include “nature,” “weather,” and “prices” but I won’t spoil it, this is really a treat for anyone from New York, the midwest, or literally anywhere. The spirit of Business Insider founder and golden retriever puppy Henry Blodget lives!
Today’s Song: “Where's The Love” covered by Bowling For Soup, feat. Hanson (via Cy in the excellent Tabs subscriber Discord)
~ Midwesterners show pride for their tabs on signs and branding throughout the streets ~
That’s the week, nothing else can happen until Monday thank god. Don’t take the rest of the afternoon off, but also don’t accomplish anything productive. If you subscribe I’ll see you tomorrow in the open thread, where we’ll be surveying everyone’s specific but useless skills. Sorry this one ran so long but not actually sorry ok bye
A previous version of this post had Trapani and LoSacco’s titles reversed. We regret the error.
Kyle is this “main-character energy?”